Teaching Kindness to Kids
Every good parent strives to teach their children the cornerstones of a healthy and happy life. Lessons about personal care, responsibility, and achievement. Lessons about compassion, love, and kindness. Lessons that will guide them around life’s obstacles and through its trials.
Though lessons of the heart are the most important, they’re often the hardest to teach. While we have chore lists to teach responsibility and school curriculums to encourage achievement, what do we have to teach and promote kindness?
That’s exactly the question God put on the hearts of Mikey and Elaine Hampson.
Mikey and Elaine went to high school together, but they didn’t cross paths until years later at a store. One thing led to another, and they were soon married with two young boys. Mikey and Elaine originally came from very different backgrounds, with Mikey being second-generation Conch and Elaine immigrating from Cuba.
Yet, however different their pasts, they knew the future they wanted to build for their family. One based on faith, compassion, and giving that improves their kids’ lives as well as those around them. With that in mind and with God’s guidance, Mikey and Elaine created a system that encourages kids to practice acts of kindness, called Dollars of Love.
Mikey has served as a mentor for many years, including with the Firefighter Explorer program. While trying to instill positive behaviors in teens, he realized how easily we place value on practical actions kids take, like mowing lawns and babysitting. Yet, the most valuable contributions to society we can make stem from acts of love.
“If a kid mows a lawn for $5, the action is worth $5,” Mikey explains. “But if a kid mows his elderly neighbor’s lawn for free, that is worth so much more than $5. That’s the mindset we’re trying to instill in our kids and to help other parents who want to do the same.”
Mikey and Elaine model kindness for their kids in their everyday lives, understanding that kids learn from watching as much as doing. But they also wanted a more direct way to teach the value of kindness. That is how Dollars of Love came to be.
Dollars of Love is a currency available to all walks of life, regardless of socioeconomic status. It is earned through performing good deeds and actions of love. Mikey and Elaine published an interactive children’s book and workbook to help introduce this “when we give, we receive” concept to younger children.
The children’s story is based on Elaine’s real-life experience growing up in extreme poverty in Cuba. As a child, her family couldn’t even afford to buy her an ice cream cone. She remembers her grandmother would cry because she could not provide such a simple treat to those she loved the most. Then, one day, the kindness of a stranger made a lasting impact on Elaine and wiped the tears from her grandmother’s eyes. That kindness came in the form of an ice cream cone.
Elaine will never forget the taste of that frozen gift, but, more so, she’ll never forget the love behind it. She’ll never forget that the simple act of giving and receiving goes far beyond any tangible thing. It is that same message the Dollars of Love book delivers.
The Dollars of Love book comes with cut-out dollars that kids receive when they perform good deeds. At the end of the day, they reflect upon each Dollar they earned and write on the back how it made them feel. At the end of the week, they can turn their Dollars of Love in for a prize.
Parents can also take it one step further by placing values on different-sized prizes to teach financial responsibility. Kids learn how to save their Dollars to purchase bigger rewards instead of opting for the instant gratification of a smaller prize.
In the beginning, the prizes kids purchase with their Dollars of Love reinforce their positive behavior, but as the weeks progress, the children realize that the loving action itself makes them feel better than any prize they receive. This creates a pathway where it becomes second nature for the child to perform a good deed.
Kindness becomes a part of who they are.
The Dollars of Love Workbook supplements the book by providing ideas and space for the reader to illustrate and plan how they will perform their next good deed. The good deeds don’t have to be grand gestures. In fact, they’re not expected to be. The goal is to show kids that even the smallest acts of kindness can make a big difference.
“Adults mistakenly think we need more time or money to help others,” Elaine says, “but we just need to integrate small acts of love into our day. It can be as simple as smiling at a stranger that looks sad or helping someone load their groceries. Those small actions are worthy of Dollars of Love because they are about recognizing others’ needs, not just our own.”
Mikey gives another great example of picking up trash at the beach as a family and then spending the rest of the afternoon playing in the sand. Dollars of Love is about kindness fitting into your daily activities, rather than feeling you have to go out of your way.
Mikey and Elaine take a humble position on their Dollars for Love concept. They don’t think it’s a “better” way to parent but believe it can help parents lay a foundation of love and kindness early on in a child’s life. It’s meant as another tool in the parenting toolbox.
“Kids have plenty of time when they’re older to learn about work and making money,” Mikey says. “In children’s formidable years, we believe it’s more valuable to lay a foundation of love and kindness because, with that foundation, success will follow. When kids are more aware of others and what’s going on around them, they will naturally become better leaders, team members, and problem-solvers.”
Dollars of Love is not just for young children, however. Though the book and workbook are geared to a young audience, the Dollars of Love community is for all ages.
In fact, the Dollars of Love community works hand-in-hand with the 501c3 non-profit organization Mikey and Elaine just established, called Every Child is a Superhero. A portion of all book sales goes to support the organization.
Every Child is a Superhero is on a mission to help every child “unlock their God-given gifts and superhero abilities.” The newly-founded non-profit uses Dollars of Love to mentor children and will help support them in practical ways based on their age, such as trading in Dollars of Love for scholarships.
As both the founders of Every Child is a Superhero and creators of Dollars of Love, Mikey and Elaine are unlocking their God-given gifts and superhero abilities. They are answering the calling God put on their hearts to make this difference in children’s lives and, ultimately, in the world they grow up in.
“God has guided us every step of the way in this process and showed us what Love is all about,” Mikey says, adding that without God, he and his family would have nothing. “Our mission is to create a movement focused on loving others and seeking out opportunities, big and small, to make the whole world beautiful.”
‘The Whole World is Beautiful’ is the slogan for Dollars of Love. It represents how beauty can be found wherever love and kindness reside.
Mikey and Elaine Hampson hope Dollars of Love and Every Child is a Superhero become a resource for the Keys community and communities far and wide. They are looking forward to working with teachers, Sunday schools, guidance counselors, kid clubs, and other organizations to spread their message of compassion.
The Dollars of Love book and Workbook are available in paperback and hardback on Amazon and their website. For more information about classroom visits, workshops, or bulk orders, you can contact Mikey and Elaine Hampson through their website: www.DollarsofLove.com
– Jerrica Mah is a writer, army wife and freelance book editor, who loves to travel with her family.