Guide for Parents, Teachers, & Other Grown ups of Spirit Post Members

Thank you for bringing The Spirit Post into your home or classroom. With your help, we can make kindness a part of your child’s or students’ moral fabric and daily routine. In other words, we can make the world a little kinder, one child at a time.

What is The Spirit Post?

A Christmas-themed children’s book and toy that uses positive, internal motivation to encourage kids to spread kindness year-round.

What’s in the box?

The Spirit Post package includes a beautifully illustrated, rhyming, hardcover book, an assigned member of The Spirit Post Owl Brigade (a plush snowy owl with a messenger bag), a notebook for recording daily acts of kindness, and a letter and list of kindness ideas from Santa.

How does The Spirit Post work?

The Spirit Post takes the familiar Santa story and builds on it: The North Pole is going through a Christmas Spirit slump and unless things turn around soon, Santa won’t be able to make his Christmas Eve deliveries. Santa’s plan (which he calls The Spirit Post) is to ship in extra Christmas Spirit from children all over the world via the Owl Brigade, an army of snowy owls. Kids create the Christmas Spirit by being kind and doing good.

At the end of each day in December, kids write down how they spread Christmas Spirit in the Spirit Post notebook. They fold up the page and put it in their owl’s bag. Each night, the owl flies to the North Pole and delivers the Christmas Spirit. At the end of the month, thanks to the Christmas Spirit deliveries, Santa and his team are able to make their Christmas Eve ride.

How do we get started?

  1. Read the letter from Santa and his list of kindness ideas with your child.
  2. Read The Spirit Post with your child and brainstorm ways to spread kindness.
  3. At the end of each day in December, sit down with your child and talk about how he/she spread kindness and Christmas Spirit that day.
  4. Record those acts in the Spirit Post notebook.
  5. Have your child tear out the day’s page, fold it up, and put it in their owl’s messenger bag.
  6. Each night, put the owl close to your chimney or door so he can “fly” to the North Pole while your child sleeps.
  7. Before your child wakes up (or, for a classroom, before the kids come to class), remove the notebook page from the owl’s bag. If you’d like to, leave a small “thank you” from Santa in the bag for your child to find (like a thank you note or a small treat).

The idea is not to create extravagant thank yous or an expectation that there will always be something in the bag – Santa and his crew are busy in the run up to Christmas (as are you!) and so sometimes the bag will be empty. That’s ok. Our focus is on creating an intrinsic motivation to be kind, fueled by a desire to help others for the sake of helping others. The kindness is its own reward; any thank yous from Santa are just icing on the cake.

How is The Spirit Post different from other Christmas stories?

The Spirit Post is a positive, gentle alternative to Christmas traditions (like The Elf on the Shelf) that focus on threats and rewards as motivators for behavior: If you’re “good,” you’ll get presents, if you’re “bad,” you’ll get a lump of coal. That lesson may find some success during the lead up to Christmas, but it loses all its power Christmas morning: Santa comes and goes, and the threat/reward goes right with him.

The Spirit Post is based on a recognition that lasting motivation is internal. It aims to make kindness part of kids’ moral fabric by teaching them to think daily about how they can help other people. By regularly exercising their kindness muscles, kids will learn to be kind and act morally when no one is watching, no matter what they stand to gain or lose. Those lessons will help guide their behavior long after Christmas.

Why does The Spirit Post matter?

Though the Spirit Post story is fictional, it is rooted in a harsh reality: the North Pole isn’t running low on kindness, but the world is. People and animals are cast aside, hurt, abused, and killed every day because some other motivation (money, success, perceived superiority, convenience, vengeance, recognition) wins out over the motivation to be kind.  

That makes sense: when the motivation to be kind is external (i.e. threats and rewards), it is easily overcome by stronger threats or rewards. But when kindness is part of the very fabric of your being, it becomes an almost unshakable internal code of behavior that can stand up to competing motivations.

Of course the world’s a big place, and making kindness an internal motivation for all of its inhabitants would require nothing short of a kindness revolution. So what do we do? Gandhi said, “If we are to teach real peace in this world, we shall have to begin with the children.” We believe the same goes for kindness, and The Spirit Post is designed to plant the seeds for a kindness revolution in today’s kids.

How can we keep the kindness flowing after Christmas?

If you and your child spend the month of December brainstorming ways to spread kindness, acting on those ideas, and then recording the kind acts at the end of the day, you’ll be well on your way to developing a kindness habit that continues long after the presents are opened Christmas morning.

We encourage you to continue that habit of spreading kindness and reflecting on the day throughout the year. If you run low on kindness ideas, check out kindspring.org or randomactsofkindness.org for more.

Another way to reinforce the kindness habit is to read books with your child that promote kindness.

Some favorites:

Most importantly, YOU can practice being kind. Though we can (and should) talk and read about kindness with our kids, there is nothing more powerful than action. So make a mindful effort to spread kindness and to share your successes with your children. They are watching, and what they see you do will provide a much stronger statement of your values than any book or toy ever could.

Then, when December rolls around again, bring out The Spirit Post to jumpstart your family’s kindness revolution anew!

 

The Spirit Post