It was 2013 that I first came up with the original idea for The Kindness Elves™, a fun family tradition to help promote acts of kindness, thoughtfulness and generosity with children. Since then the tradition has spread like wild-fire around the world and become so popular, featuring on other blogs, online publications and even appearing on US and Canadian news shows on tv!
I first wrote about The Kindness Elves™ over on my The Imagination Tree™ blog and this year I’ve finally launched our brand new blog The Kindness Elves™, so that we can further develop and celebrate the ideas together over here. This is now the one-stop shop for all ideas and activities related to The Kindness Elves™, as well as the place to buy your own!
So what’s the story behind The Kindness Elves™?
When my little ones were starting to get more aware of Christmas and all of the exciting traditions that accompany it, it was time to decide what we would adopt for our own family and what we most wanted to focus on for our children. In a world that is so full of “stuff” and a creeping entitlement and have-it-all-now attitude, we knew we wanted our children to feel instead a sense of gratitude for what they have and kindness towards others.
Having been a teacher of young children for 10 years, I found repeatedly that praise and emphasising positive behaviour is the most wonderful way to encourage more of the same to follow, rather than constantly focusing on the negatives and shaming. So as much as I was charmed by the idea of the Elf that gets up to some mischief and moves around the house, I was much less charmed by the way that he is constantly watching the children’s behaviour so he can “report back” to Santa. The notion that kids will only be getting presents because they deserve them is just not right. We give to others because we love them and want to show them this, not because we think they’ve checked off all of the necessary requirements to be deserving of our gifts!
So instead I came up with The Kindness Elves™, a sweet-natured alternative to the elf on the shelf with a positive message of emphasising kindness, sharing and gratitude within our children. There is still plenty of magic and fun, but none of the bribery or focus on behaving well to earn a reward.
These Kindness Elves™ arrive in our home and leave little notes for the kids to find and read (or have read to them if younger.) They love looking out for kindness and often make a note of it when they see it happening!
They also suggest lots of kind activities that they can do together with the children to show everyone around us that we care for them. Many are simple, everyday gestures such as smiling at everyone we see, saying please and thank you, holding the door open and playing together without squabbles.
There are plenty of ideas for celebrating and thanking those in our local community who serve us, such as postal workers, medical staff, fire fighters, police officers, teachers, librarians and more.
There are also grander gestures of good will, such as filling a box with unwanted books to donate to the doctor’s waiting room, taking tins of food to the local food bank or choosing a child to sponsor in a less fortunate situation than our own.
The idea is to keep it simple to suit your own family or class and situation that you are in. It may be that you have elderly relatives living with you or nearby. These may become the focus of the kind deeds.
If you have just preschoolers then very simple gestures such as helping a parent pick up toys and helping to pick a toy to wrap for a less fortunate child, will be plenty to do together!
This is the third year we are using this tradition now and my own kids adore the friendly little elves and regularly talk about them, asking when they’ll be visiting next. I love the positive impact our little friends are having and the open-ended way that the tradition can be tailored to each family or school setting.
Of course, kindness is not just for Christmas and on a few occasions our elves have sent a note to say they would be visiting again at other points throughout the year. We will feature more ideas for ways to use them throughout the year on this blog soon.
If you would like to jump on board and join the kindness revolution with us, then use the hashtag #thekindnesselves on all social media and join in the fun! You’ll see plenty of inspiration along the way.
And if you want to get your own Kindness Elves™ with their beautiful little house, including an adorable working mail box, you can order them here!