Elders have a lot of wisdom to share with everyone! They have lived for a long time, and deserve respect, kindness and support, like everyone else does! However, sometimes seniors end up forgotten in elderly homes and rarely get visited. It is important that we teach kids from a young age about the special places elders have in our lives. As parents take care of their kids, one day those parents will become seniors and may need support from the kids they helped raise.
Finding ways for kids to interact with older people can teach them a lot, especially opening their eyes for the need to respect elders. According to Harvard psychologist, Richard Weissbourd, being caring toward others can give kids "an important and positive source of happiness". And guess what? Meanwhile, those receiving kindness from the kids, in this case the elders, also experience happiness. It's a win-win situation!
After Camp Kindness kids visited an assisted living community, the director commented, "I was so touched when I saw our seniors' faces just light up at the first sight of your CKC kids and loved their positive energy." Besides that, any interaction among seniors and friends bring them much appreciation, which can translate into more motivation, optimism, and even better health for them!
Here are a few ideas to get you and your kids to interact with some elders:
- When at a store or mall entrance, hold the door for an older person
- Email an older relative and include a smiley face emoji in it to cheer them up!
- Record you and your kid playing an instrument or singing a song, then send it to an elderly friend. (Or better yet, go perform for them in person!)
- Make a bouquet with fresh flowers to surprise an elder!
- Bake 3 dozen cookies and bring them to an elderly home.
- Offer a senior neighbor to weed their backyard for free! (and make sure you follow through!)
By building up a mutually respectful relationship with elders, you learn from them as much as they feel valued by you! "What could I learn from them?", you or your kid might ask. Well, besides all the experiences and collected wisdom they will share with you, you and your kid will also learn about patience, as elders might be having some difficulties listening, walking, talking, etc. It becomes a valuable lesson in being kind to elders, which prepares us all for the future, since we will all become elders some day, too.