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african american mother holding cookbook and daughter preparing dough in kitchen, looking at each otherHow often do you tell your children to “be nice?” Dozens of times a day? That’s good and well, but how often do you practice what you preach?

Being nice usually comes as second nature, as in — we just behave that way because we know we are supposed to. But with life being life, we are often handed excess stress, worry and frustration that sometimes overtake the niceness. If you and your crew could use some extra niceness in your lives, here’s a list of ways to easily accomplish this:

  1. Have a nice jar. This is simply a jar that you each drop kind, hand-written notes into. When you are feeling down or someone wasn’t nice to you, a trip to the jar is required!
  2. Reward being nice. If you are caught being randomly nice, get rewarded with a small treat, such as candy or extra TV time. Set up jars for everyone and place a dry bean or cotton ball into the jar. The person with the most at the end of the month wins!
  3. Have an unkind jar. A complete opposite of the nice jar, this jar is for when someone is being unpleasant to other people. If you are being unkind to others, you must give up a reward item (see above) or place a quarter in the jar. Use the money collected to do something good!
  4. Share the kindness. Visit a nursing home or children’s hospital and spread the love. Talk to residents or play with the kids and be reminded how happy your life really is. Find ways each week to demonstrate kindness to others and show your children how easy it truly is to be compassionate and kind. It doesn’t take a lot of money or dramatic gestures to make the world a better place!
  5. Be thankful. Take an extra minute or two and thank those around you… mail carriers, cashiers, etc. Show your children the importance of saying ‘thank you’ to those who have been kind to you.
  6. Pay it forward! This is the easiest. It can be as big as paying off someone’s account balance at a local store or as small as raking an elderly neighbor’s leaves. Just do a good deed without being prompted in hopes that others will follow your example. Studies show that people who make small gestures of kindness each day toward others (as opposed to cutting other people off in traffic or rushing to get in front of someone else in line at the grocery store) are happier and even healthier.
  7. Realize that being nice isn’t always easy. Deep down, we all know what is and is not nice behavior; we just have to remember which is more important to use!