Posted: Feb 08, 2013 8:00 AM
What we love most about Valentine's Day is its focus on friendship and kindness. These "acts" are not only thoughtful and kind, but also simple and relatable. Sit, discuss and plan these together. You're sure to see a lovely side to your school-age kid as you "think kindness" together.

Valentine's Day brings out the good friend in all of us. Use that momentum to make a bucket list of kind things you and your school-age kids can do for others. Carve out the time to make a kindness plan and to execute it. What's special about these ideas is they're meant to be done together, cementing the message that kindness matters to your family. Use this list to get you started, then see where your own ideas take you!

For friends

  • Any day cards — Your school-age kids will love giving friends cards on an any day, one that's not a special occasion, and the receiver is sure to feel loved and appreciated.
  • Surprise flowers — A flower stem left on a friend's doorstep or a sibling's bedside is bound to make someone smile.
  • Sweet nothings — Leave colorful chalk drawings and messages on someone's driveway. What a sweet welcome home!

For adultsmilk and cookies

  • Weather-friendly drinks — A cup of coffee, a mug of hot chocolate or a water bottle are lovely surprises for busy workers. Your mailman, classroom teachers, school crossing guards and custodians are perfect unsuspecting targets!
  • Clean-up time — Do someone's outside chores for them. Whether it's weeding a garden, shoveling a driveway or putting away trash and recycling bins, this one is as helpful as it is kind.
  • Cookies and milk — Homemade cookies brighten everyone's day. Bake up a special treat for a coach, a day care provider or a neighbor just because.

For strangers

  • Spare change — Quarters taped to meters and vending, soda and gumball machines are a fun way to make someone's day.
  • Blessings bags — A bag filled with lunch staples can be given to someone in need. Lovely alternatives are bags filled with toiletries such as soap, toothpaste and deodorant or bags filled with non-perishable snacks such as apple sauce, granola bars and crackers.
  • Flipped treats — Surprise a grocery store cashier, a drive-thru server or a bus driver with a simple treat such as an apple, a lollipop or a snack bag.

One MOre Thought^

Start out by marking the calendar with which days you'll do Acts of Kindness together. Once you're in the habit of doing kindness, impromptu acts such as holding doors for strangers, paying someone else's library fines or leaving a waitress a thank you note will become second nature. Also consider the element of surprise. No one necessarily needs to know what you and your little partner have done, the kindness lesson is just as powerful between the two of you.

More on family activities

Parent-friendly things to do this weekend
The importance of family mealtime
Sibling bonding