HELP CHILDREN BLOSSOM: NOURISH GOOD HABITS, PREVENT POOR ONES AND PROMOTE KINDNESS
Engaging in repeated actions or thought patterns can change neural connections in the brain in meaningful and lasting ways (Rosenzweig & Bennet, 1996). These habits become a big part of who we are and it is especially important to be mindful of what habits we cultivate in childhood and adolescence, periods of the greatest development in mind and brain (Bryck & Fisher, 2012). If we want our children to be happy, helpful and successful, low in stress and high in self-esteem, then where better to start than with kindness (Post, 2005). Talking, thinking and writing about positive, caring and supportive interactions reinforce kindness and help children—and adults—relive the good feelings associated with the act (or witnessing the act).
Practicing the habit of kindness provides a valuable tool for interacting with self and others. Celebrating these acts helps to richly encode the experiences in memory, making them more accessible which can, in turn, empower children to proactively deal with serious issues including sadness, anxiety, anger and bullying, whether in themselves or in their environment (Bandura, 2006).
URSpecialTree.com is a free online game site where children send and receive kind, supportive notes. Colorful—and often silly—animations pop up every now and again as your tree grows and grows! Every time you receive a note, your 'SpecialTree' grows another branch. When you send a note, your tree grows a branch and a flower. Everybody wins! Kids don't write their own content, instead they combine words, phrases and pictures into their own kind note. The site is carefully designed to allow ample creativity (and fun) while making sure that only positive messages can be sent. Usernames and passwords are encrypted; no identifying/personal information is retained on our servers. Free to use and worry-free: URSpecialTree is a secure site.
Watch your tree grow and grow and grow by visiting URSpecialTree.com and logging in to your account. Check back often!
WeCare2Share.com is a free forum for sharing acts of kindness. Children submit stories, photos, videos and ideas that celebrate kind acts. All submissions are moderated and monitored for appropriate content before posting. Teachers and parents are encouraged to tell us about their child's good deeds. Actively testifying to kindness is a bold, empowering act, and so is seeing others do the same on the blog. For home, school and church/temple, a free, downloadable Good Deeds Diary is provided that children can use to focus on and celebrate their own kind acts and the kind acts of others through daily writing.
Bandura, A. (2006). Adolescent development from an agentic perspective. Self-efficacy beliefs of adolescents, 5(1-43).
Bryck, R. L., & Fisher, P. A. (2012). Training the brain: practical applications of neural plasticity from the intersection of cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and prevention science. American Psychologist, 67(2), 87.
Post, S. G. (2005). Altruism, happiness, and health: It's good to be good. International journal of behavioral medicine, 12(2), 66-77.
Rosenzweig, M. R., & Bennett, E. L. (1996). Psychobiology of plasticity: effects of training and experience on brain and behavior. Behavioural brain research, 78(1), 57-65.