Not the Giving Tree. I hate that book. It’s suppose to be a parent’s undying love and constant giving to a child. No, that kid is a selfish brat. I want to say he never says thank you, but I’m not sure. I can’t remember. He does kill the tree, so a thank you would be a little short of adequate.
I have created a The Kindness Tree. A few months back, I noticed something about Tornado E. That kid is a bit self-centered. In my opinion, he’s more self-centered than he should be at this age. I needed something to help him think beyond himself. I needed something simple and easy, something fun that he would want to do. I was thinking of community projects or helping out with organizations. But everything seemed too old for him.
I needed something with a reward. I needed something that would excite him and motivate him until kindness motivated him. But not a reward that was toys or money or food. I didn’t want this to become mercenary. I needed something I could monitor and guide.
The Kindness Tree. Every kind deed he does, he will put a leaf on a branch, growing the tree. I would write the kind deed on a leaf and hang it on the tree. Then one day a beautiful tree would stand as a monument to good deeds.
At first I was going to draw a giant tree with branches and draw leaves to put on it. But then I stopped at a teaching supply store and found a cut out tree with branches with leaves to add. I bought another package of extra leaves. I hung the whole thing up in their room with wall putty. The tree stands about 5 feet high all cartoonish and cute.
I explained the plan to Tornado E who reluctantly agreed. Tornado S overheard and enthusiastically agreed. Tornado E got more enthusiastic.
And it didn’t go well at first. Tornado E kept forgetting to do a kind deed. Tornado S kept doing a bunch. But then I caught Tornado E reading to Tornado A, and I ran and got a leaf. Tornado E was so proud. He started to remember to do more things.
On a perfect night, after reading and before prayers, the boys tell me about their good deeds. Even Tornado A tries to do something kind to get a leaf. Even friends who have been over for playdates try to get leaves. Sure, some days no one gets a leaf, but we’re trying. We’re growing a Kindness Tree.