Each year on July 11th, people across the United States celebrate National Cheer Up the Lonely Day by making a special effort to contact those people in their lives who need a little extra love and attention. Everyone experiences difficult times and loneliness. Whether these feels are due to health issues, financial reasons, grief due to loss or personal reasons, isolation can be overwhelming. Your small act of kindness on this national holiday can make a big difference to someone who needs your smile to brighten their day. There are a number of ways you can observe Cheer Up the Lonely Day, but one of the most impactful ways is to teach your children to be kind.
The Origin of the Holiday
National Cheer Up the Lonely Day was created by Francis Pesek of Detroit, Michigan. Mr. Pesek’s daughter describes her father as a “quiet, kind, wonderful man who had a heart of gold.” She reports that the idea of this holiday came to him as a way of promoting kindness toward others who were lonely or forgotten as shut-ins or in nursing homes. This date was selected as it was Mr. Pesek’s birthday.
Modeling Kind Behavior
Kindness is the most fundamental expression of what it means to be a human being. Be a good role model for your children and show kindness, not only to your children but also to the people you interact with each day. In the age of social media, the ease, speed, and anonymity of which one can pass judgement is unprecedented. Children who spend a significant period of time on social media learn this judgemental behavior from what they see. Your kids will watch how you treat people, noting both subtle interactions, such as putting your phone down to make eye contact and saying thank you, to more tangible acts of kindness, like bringing a meal to a sick neighbor. Be the behavior you want to see in your children by practicing kindness.
Observing Cheer Up the Lonely Day with Acts of Kindness
There are a number of activities that you can do with your children to promote kindness and offer support for those individuals who may be feeling lonely or left out. A visit, phone call, text, or funny card can brighten their day.
Teach your children the joy of helping others and how a simple act of kindness can go a long way. For younger children this could be explained as encouraging a worried friend with pat on the back, waiving to an elderly neighbor, or breaking a cookie in half to share with a friend. Examples for older children could include inviting a lonely classmate to sit at their lunch table, or comforting a friend who is sad or scared.
Kindness and Your Kids
Teaching your children kindness not only has a positive impact on those they interact with but also provides a number of benefits for your children.
-Happy Children: Studies show that kindness activates the joyful area of the brain.
-Less Stress and Overall Improved Health: Being kind decreases stress and increases happiness.
-Improved Self Esteem: Small acts of kindness create feelings of self-worth and a feeling of optimism.
-Increased Feelings of Gratitude: Children learn to appreciate what they have when helping others.
-Reduced Bullying and Depression: Research has discovered that the effects of bullying can be significantly reduced by integrating kindness based programs in schools. Acts of kindness increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin levels are increased in both the giver and receiver of an act of kindness, as well as anyone who witnesses that kindness.
It is not what your children achieve in life, but who they become and how they treat others that really matters. Celebrate National Cheer Up the Lonely Day by talking to your children about the importance of being kind. If you teach them to be kind, you are setting your children up for success and creating a positive impact on the kids around them as well. As the saying goes…”in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”