The Best Ways to Teach Kindness to Kids: A Guide for Random Acts of Kindness Day
Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day. Random Acts of Kindness day is an annual event celebrated around the world on February 17th each year. It's a day to celebrate acts of kindness, compassion, and caring for others. The hope is that the kindness shared on a day like today can spark awareness and be acted out regularly. It's crucial to teach kind behaviors to young children and why a simple act of kindness can go a long way in making the world a better place. This blog post will explore why kindness is important to teach children and how to do so.
Why is Teaching Kindness to Children So Important? What are the Benefits?
First, it's critical to understand the importance of kindness. Practicing kindness increases a child's social-emotional skills, such as empathy. And in a world where compassion is becoming increasingly sparse, it's essential to show your child that kindness matters. When children do kind things, they show that they understand that person's feelings. Therefore, expressing kindness helps them identify and understand the emotions of others. It helps them to be more understanding and tolerant of others.
In turn, child empathy and kindness are the building blocks to creating positive relationships for them. Developing strong connections with those around them makes children feel accepted and as if they belong. By demonstrating kindness and empathy, children learn to care for others and how to become more compassionate. They learn to be more accepting of differences and to value the perspectives of others. Kindness and empathy also help children develop better communication, social, and problem-solving skills, which are critical components of healthy relationships.
Being kind leads to better mental health. It also creates a sense of self-worth and purpose in a child's life and can be especially beneficial for children struggling with self-esteem issues. Kindness can also show children that their actions positively impact their world, which can help them feel more confident in themselves. Lastly, having strong social skills, feeling as though you belong, and having good relationships with your peers and community promotes self-esteem in children.
How to Teach Kindness to Children
One of the most practical ways to teach a child the concept of kindness is to lead by example. According to research by the University of Michigan, children learn up to 90% of their values, beliefs, and behaviors from their parents. Therefore, children learn by example from what their parents do and say and how they interact with others. Below is a list of concrete actions and ideas to model kindness for the children in your life.
Demonstrate kindness to other adults and children. Speak kind words and always treat those around you with kindness. Show how you are respectful of other people's feelings and rights.
Parents should model being polite and having good manners by teaching their children to say "please" and "thank you." Show them different ways to share with others.
Display solid ethical values. Modeling strong values can be as simple as sticking to your commitments to others, hard work, doing the right thing even when it's hard, standing up for what you believe in, and being honest and fair.
Teach your child empathy by explaining what it means, why it's essential, and how to be sensitive to other people's feelings and experiences.
Engage in acts of kindness together and help your child find ways to help others and make the world a kinder place. Encourage your child to lend others a helping hand, even if they are just little things. Examples would be helping an elderly neighbor bring in their groceries when you see them unloading the car, offering to lend a hand to a family member when they've had a bad day, helping their dad with yard work, sitting with the new kid at lunch, offering a hand at a local animal shelter, offering to share your big umbrella with someone on a rainy day, volunteer at a soup kitchen, or look for ways to help people while out and about at a local park.
Reinforce their positive behaviors and kindness. Tell your child why their actions make them a good person with a kind heart. Raise them up and tell them how proud you are when they display kindness, compassion, empathy, and care.
Social media is such a large part of our world today. One way to use it positively is to follow people spreading kindness and share the videos with your child. For example, Suspended Coffees Act is an excellent foundation to follow on Facebook. On Instagram or TikTok, follow Samuel Weidenhofer @itssozer for heartwarming videos about how he spreads kindness to strangers. Or, you can also show your child a short animated video like the one below!
Books That Teach Kindness To Young Kids
Books are easy for children to relate to the characters and connect to their own lives. Purchasing books about kindness and compassion is one of the best ways to teach children what being kind means for them and those around them. I have created a list of books for young readers to learn the practice of kindness and how to carry out simple acts of kindness in their lives.
(This list does contain affiliate links for your convenience. I do make a small commission from any purchases made.)
This book is an excellent book for elementary students and is great for class discussion and follow-up activities. In this story, Mrs. Bloom assigns a kindness project, and her students are to draw pictures, and the kids share an act of kindness to make a kindness quilt. It's an excellent book for children preschool-3rd grade age.
This story teaches children how little acts of kindness can help kids feel included and as if they belong. Trudy Ludwig, an acclaimed author and speaker wrote this sweet story. It's perfect for kids in 1st-3rd grade.
This book has adorable illustrations and a wonderful storyline about spreading kindness, compassion, and love. It shows the powerful impact of a small act of kindness and how spreading kindness can be contagious! This book is excellent for older kids too, and ages preschool-late elementary.
This book is full of examples of ways children can spread kindness in their own lives. It gives them real-life examples of kind acts and situations they can relate to and apply to their lives!
5. Enemy Pie
Enemy Pie is a great way to teach children about kindness, respect, friendship, and dealing with conflict. It's one that my students always love to read! It's excellent for kindergarten-3rd grade students.
6. Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids
This book has an adorable story about kindness, sharing, and caring for others. They give 50% of all proceeds to non-profits that serve children and families and have kindness activities, information on bucket filling, and free downloads at bucketfillers.com. It's an excellent book for children in preschool-4th grade.
7. The Power of Kindness: Through the Eyes of Children
This excellent book gives children examples of how they can be kind people. Children learn ways to spread kindness and joy to others through good deeds, empathy, compassion, and kindness.
In conclusion, kindness is an essential skill to teach our children, create a safe environment for all, and make the world a better place. Being kind benefits your child significantly as it develops empathy, helps them build strong relationships, feel a sense of belonging, and have high self-esteem. What better gift can you give your child than this?
I encourage you to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Day today and every day! It can be as simple as reading a book from the list above with your child and discussing how they can apply those ideas to their own lives, getting out there and helping others together, watching kindness videos, or helping them perform a selfless act in your community. Something as simple as a smile or taking the time to stop and talk to someone could make all the difference in the world to them! The most important thing is that they realize their actions affect others and can make the world a better place, even if they reach out to help someone simply.
About the Author
I know firsthand how powerful stories can be when teaching children how to be empathetic and compassionate. Not only did I research this and write my thesis on this topic in grad school, but I am a certified Wisdom Coach (through Adventures in Wisdom) and often use stories to teach children about complex topics. Stories in this program address issues such as peer pressure, self-esteem, self-talk, choosing integrity, letting go of mistakes, gratitude, manifesting your dreams, and so on. Think of it as a confidence coach who helps children with the ups and downs of growing up.
If this interests you or your child might benefit from coaching, please click the button below to register for a FREE 30-minute Discovery Call with me. We can dive deeper into your child's needs and if the program might be a perfect fit!
Janay offers one-on-one tutoring sessions to children struggling with reading or looking to get ahead. Additionally, she provides one-on-one confidence coaching for children to help them overcome the ups and downs of growing up.
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