When given the opportunity, kids find their own way to show strength, bravery, and kindness. Sometimes they may need a gentle push, as my four inherently shy kids do, to venture outside their little bubble, but when we give kids the chance, they will shine.
A few months ago, my parents-in-law gathered all of the grandkids around the living room and announced a challenge. They held out 19 envelopes, each with a crisp ten dollar bill inside. The kids jumped up and down at the prospect of free money. But what happened next surprised us all.
Grandma Gave Them Each $10 and Here’s What They Did…
This money isn’t for you, my mother-in-law explained. It’s for someone else, but you get to be in charge of who it is for and what you use it for.
The kids were skeptical. Many of them raised their eyebrows. Grandma explained that what her and grandpa wanted most of all was to bless other people’s lives, but they needed help. They needed a small army of grandkids to go out and look closely into their lives for someone who was hurting, lonely, in need, or could just use a friend. The mission was for each kid, in one month’s time, to use his or her $10 to help in some way. That was it. No rules on who to choose or what to do; grandma and grandpa left that up to each child.
When given the chance, kids will shine.
Over the next month, we all went about our lives as usual, but something was a little different about my kids. They started looking outside of themselves. At school they actually looked up and noticed the kids around them. They paid attention to small details like who didn’t have someone to play with at recess or who was sitting alone at lunch. When we were out and about, they asked questions about homeless people or noticed situations that even I didn’t.
With their ten dollars in mind, my kids started making plans. My fourth grade daughter came home from school one day and said, “Mom, today my class visited the school book fair and one of my friends was sad because her family doesn’t have enough money for the book fair this year. Do you think you could come with me and help me pick out a few books for her?”
Tears came to my eyes as I nodded, “Yes, yes, I’d love to do that.”
Nineteen grandkids with $10 each. No huge waves were created, but 19 small stones cast into a pond can send out ripples in all directions. Deeds ranged from picking out a toy at Walmart to give to a friend, to buying dinner for the family across the restaurant. One child delivered flowers to an older woman from church, while another gave a special gift to his piano teacher.
What was even better than the gifts themselves, was the fact that nineteen grandchildren, ranging from ages three to twelve, started looking at the world with different eyes. They began seeing ways they could help; they began seeing outside their bubble.
If you want to see what kids are really capable of, try giving them a chance.