Up until this year, I made sure the Easter bunny set up a “fair” egg hunt on Easter morning. Usually it was color coded and each child was assigned a color in a special note. It was easy and I didn’t have to worry about anyone being upset.
But this year, my priorities changed. This year, I just finished reading the book “UnSelfie: Why Empathetic Kids Succeed in Our All-About-Me World” by Dr. Michele Borba. It is about empathy, and how important it is in being successful and happy. And how emotional intelligence and kindness are important factors in developing empathy.
And it made me think about my priorities as a parent. And our priorities as a family.
So we remodeled our Easter egg hunt.
The oldest is currently six, so she is old enough to notice the change; therefore, the shift required some explanation.
When Easter morning came and she noticed the absence of a note, I played along.
“Oh Lex, that’s really special that there is no note this year.”
“Yep. That means the Easter bunny has been watching you and he thinks you are ready. It’s kind of like graduating. The Easter bunny has noticed how kind and generous you are. So this year, instead of him making sure the egg hunt is fair, he is leaving it up to you. It will be your job to make sure your little sisters get to find some eggs and that you all get to share the candy and eggs in a way that makes everyone feel good.”
She didn’t need more explanation than that. Kids are awesome that way.
And suddenly Easter morning turned into a beautiful lesson in kindness and empathy.
The oldest had to think about her siblings. She had to stop herself from taking all the easy eggs. She had to notice if they were having fun and feeling good about their own eggs.
Sure, she needed a little guidance. Because paying attention to other people and being kind is something we need a little help learning how to do. I helped by pointing out that leaving the easy eggs was a thoughtful thing to do and helping her to read the toddler’s feelings.
“Oh look, she is happy playing with the eggs she has. I think it’s okay for you to go finish hunting now.”
And it turned out to be even better than if I had made it fair. The toddler didn’t care if she got the same number of eggs. She got to hunt a few and then was perfectly happy to eat jelly beans. She wasn’t counting. And we didn’t have to force her into hunting the rest of “her” eggs.
And the oldest loved hunting eggs, so she got the thrill of finding the majority AND the emotional reward of being thoughtful of others and generous with her eggs. And since it wasn’t set up as a competition but rather as a collective effort, the oldest wasn’t counting eggs either. Everyone was perfectly happy with what they had.
Which was beautiful. But the best part? I didn’t have to police the egg hunt. I got to sit and relax and watch my kids enjoy the magic of Easter morning.
Overall, it was an awesome success. My oldest was proud to be recognized for her kindness and the younger two saw a great example of empathy and sharing in their big sister.
I have a feeling I’m going to like this new Easter tradition.