Sunday, February 21, 2010

Good Deeds Gone Wild

This year, we put Mister Man into a parochial school instead of our (admittedly, very good) local public school for a variety of reasons. It was something that I agonized over before finally making the decision - and of course afterwards.

I feel pretty confident that it was the right decision now. We love this school for so many reasons, from the truly differentiated education for students starting in kindergarten to the specials (art, music, gym, Spanish) that also start in kindgarten to the truly caring teachers there.

They've come up with some projects and activities for the kindergarteners that have really been winners. One that we're working on right now is focused on Lent. Each child was sent home with green strips of paper. Whenever the child does a good deed, we write it down on the paper and send it back to school. The good deeds will all be woven together to make one giant chain of good deeds showing how these little people can together make a big difference in the world.

I BIG puffy heart this idea. I love the concept, the explanation, and the execution.

And you know who else does? Mister Man thinks it rocks.

He is now walking around all day looking for good deeds that he can do from cleaning up the nursery at church to putting away groceries with Daddy to clearing all the plates at dinner (instead of just his own). And he isn't satisfied with just that; he wants to find more things he can do.

It feels kind of wrong, but I had to tell him today that he'd done enough good deeds for now and didn't need to look for any more right then. He had a long time yet to do more good deeds and didn't have to do them all right away. That still feels wrong just typing it - telling a child not to do any more good deeds?

This has been such a huge success with him that we may continue it once Lent is over. While he won't send it into school to make a chain with his classmates, we can do it at home. And this will also allow Little Miss to get involved (who of course wants to do anything her big brother does).

I'll be really interested to see if and how this changes his behavior at all in terms of some of the (typically) selfish six year old behavior he sometimes exhibits. Regardless, it sets him on a great path.

What do (or did) you do at home to help build a strong character?


Anonymous February 21, 2010 at 9:29 PM  

I LOVE this idea! What a great, tangible way for young children to see how their behavior impacts those around them. We were working a lot with the book How Full Is Your Bucket? with Cooper, but I think he sometimes has a hard time with the abstract concept of drops of water in a bucket. I think we will be giving this a try!

Alexis AKA MOM February 21, 2010 at 11:09 PM  

I agree I love this idea! We use the same key system that school uses for helping Cole keep with the behavior. I'm so going to have to try this. I read on another blog with a system putting penny in jar for good and taking one out if bad. Thought heck we'll try it :)

Laura February 22, 2010 at 12:57 AM  

we just beat our kids-

Laura February 22, 2010 at 1:04 AM  

no seriously we use I've been caught being good system-I catch them being good and making those hard but right decisions and give them a little dot sticker-when the chart is full usually about 18 spaces hey get it punched w/a hole punch and then it's off to the treasure box, which holds small second hand treasure I pick up at the thrift stores, some are stickers, happy meal toys, glow sticks and other little things-I actually use this w/my 17 year old too and recycle gift cards that way-I just note the $ amount left on each card and when he gets his card full he can have a toy or a card- I love this system because they never know when I'll catch them and it that keeps it new-no losing stickers either just good old fashioned re-enforcement

Karen February 22, 2010 at 7:47 AM  

I like that idea a whole lot! Thanks for sharing it - I may implement that in our Sunday School class.

WeaselMomma February 22, 2010 at 8:12 AM  

How is he at snow shoveling? That's a good deed to teach.

Pat February 22, 2010 at 9:55 AM  

What a wonderful way to grow a child's character!

We ate dinner together as a family at least 6 nights a week and discussed all kinds of things about life, activities, behavior. Some of my occasional comments to them were, "Don't bring shame to the VanderBeek name," "Your friends will come and go, but you'll always have your brothers, so be friends with your brothers."

They had chores to do.

I prayed with them every night before they went to sleep.

Jerry and I try to lead lives of integrity and I see that in my 3 sons lives today.

Mary~Momathon February 22, 2010 at 10:37 AM  

Wonder if that works on husbands. Hmmm...

Kat February 22, 2010 at 2:45 PM  

I love it. And I love the comment about beating the children! I am constantly threatening that I will hang the girls from the ceiling by their toe nails :-)

For strong character, really the only thing we do is to emphasize the civics of being part of a family. And part of it is to not need/expect a reward for good behavior. And that one needs to contribute. Not necessarily in that order.

Unknown Mami February 22, 2010 at 5:00 PM  

This is sooo touching.

septembermom February 22, 2010 at 8:23 PM  

That is wonderful Michelle! A great idea. I'm trying to teach my kids to look out for the underdog in life. I hope that they approach situations and people without judgment. Many times we'll talk about how to show kindness and consideration to others.

Michelle February 22, 2010 at 8:37 PM  

Nichole - I'd love to know how it works if you do it with him. I haven't heard of How Full Is Your Bucket; I may have to look into this.

Alexis - For him especially, negative consequences are harder and less effective than focusing on and rewarding the good behavior. The negative consequences causes him to shut down and go into a shame spiral, which is counterproductive (not to say that we don't point out when he does wrong, but it's in the context of what he needs to do differently next time).

Laura - I LOVE that first comment. You crack me up. I love the catch them being good system. That's definitely something I'll hang onto.

Karen - Oh it'd be perfect for a Sunday school class. Go you!

WeaselMomma - Honestly? He's not bad. He has his own shovel, and he likes to use it. Once he gets a little stronger, he'll have that job, too. (And not a good deed, just an expectation as being part of our family.)

Pat - I'm with you on a lot of that. I repeat the phrase (or a variant) "I only care about you and not what other people are doin. You need to be strong enough to do the right thing because it's the right thing even when you see people doing what you know isn't right."

Mary - Oooo I sense an experiment coming on. Let me know how it goes for you!

Kat - Amen on the expected behavior. I've been explaining during this time the difference between being a productive member of the family (putting away your laundry) and doing a good deed (asking Daddy if you can help him put away the groceries).

Unknown Mami - Aww, thanks. I though it was pretty cool!

Michelle February 22, 2010 at 8:38 PM  

Kelly - And with the focus you place on it, I'm sure they will. It's the underdog who needs the most help and deserves it.

anymommy February 23, 2010 at 12:03 AM  

Sweet boy. I love it when my kids set out to be nice deliberately. Love that they are fostering this at school.

Tara R. February 23, 2010 at 7:48 AM  

This is an awesome idea! I hope his chain is endless.

Michelle February 23, 2010 at 9:25 PM  

Stacey - Absolutely, that's one of the reasons we love this school. Totally teaching what I want my wee ones to learn.

Tara - THAT is a great sentiment. I hope the same thing!

Mrs4444 February 27, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

I love it! When our kids were younger, we helped deliver meals at Thanksgiving to shut-ins. Today, we volunteer through at church, though not that often, I must confess.

I also expect Kyle to pay for his insurance, even though he doesn't have a job. I know--cruel. I have never had to ask for it; he saves up part of his allowance, works odd jobs, etc. and clearly feels proud handing the money to me (even though it's often a ziplock full of change, haha.) I hate taking it, really, so I've been secretly saving it to give back to him when he graduates. benefits him doubly.

Michelle March 12, 2010 at 10:11 PM  

Mrs4444 - I know people who have done that when adult children are paying rent and given it when they move out to help pay for unexpected expenses. But call me mean, I've heard about those teen insurance bills, and I want those children to pay for theirs ;)

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