FARGO — Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf?
We have one living with us. He magically arrived one day back when my kids (now teenagers) were toddlers. His name is Carl. The kids knew never to touch Carl or he would lose his ability to fly back to the North Pole each night and tell Santa how good the kids were being.
Every morning, our little elf finds a new place to hide in the living room or kitchen. Carl used to be so sweet and do nice things like spell out “Hello” with Cheerios.
It’s funny, but the older my kids get, the naughtier Carl is getting. One day he was facedown in the box of Lucky Charms eating all the marshmallows. I also caught him on the counter with a knife the other day. Not cool, Carl. Your welcome is wearing thin.
All in all, though, he’s fun to have around, so I guess Carl can stay.
A few years ago, I was introduced to the Kindness Elves. Much like Carl, they show up each morning to greet children and give them an idea of how to show kindness to others.
I instantly loved the idea, but my kids were at the age where they didn’t like taking instructions from an elf, or their mother, so I let it go.
Jean Gloudemans has found a way to incorporate the Kindness Elves at work! Here is her story:
“I am a library teacher for a 4K school in Neenah, Wis., and we are teaching all of our students about kindness. During library time, I introduced the students to the Kindness Elves. They absolutely love them.
"Now each week, we will take a few minutes in class and talk about how each of them have been kind to friends or family or a stranger. Our Kindness Elves will write a little note to them each week telling them of how kindness is so important and how they notice the students sharing kindness at school or at home.
"I am so excited to see how this all plays out over the entire school year. Yes, the entire school year! We are visiting with our Kindness Elves all yearlong, not just at Christmas time. We did talk a bit about Elf on the Shelf and I explained to the students that this is a little different than that.
"We also celebrated World Kindness Day as a staff. Each of us wore a cardigan sweater to school (just like Mister Rogers). Some of us wore our Kindness T-shirts as well. Our mission that day was to share kindness wherever we went. It was a great day!”
It’s pretty clear the students are catching the enthusiasm for kindness not just from the elves, but also from their teachers! That’s pretty exciting because when the kids come home and share about their day, the parents and siblings are bound to catch the kindness bug, too!
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.