20 Ways to Teach Kids Kindness
Iconic children’s show host, Mr. Rogers, said it best: children who are taught kindness in early childhood have tools for healthier relationships and personal success later in life. Rather than focusing solely on getting good grades and doing well in activities/sports, kids from an early age should be taught kindness and compassion.
One study about how much money people earn in their careers showed something very intriguing. “If you rewind the clock, it's the boys who are rated as 'helpful' by their kindergarten teacher who end up earning more money 30 years later, not the boys who are the stars academically in kindergarten,” shared Adam Grant, organizational psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.
What is Kindness?
Kindness is choosing to do something that helps others or even yourself, motivated by genuine warm feelings. Kindness, or doing good, often means putting other people's needs before our own. For kids this could mean, sharing a toy, letting a friend go first, asking if a friend is okay after they fall down, or coloring a picture for a friend and giving it to them.
‘Adam Grant is urging parents to emphasize caring and kindness to their children.
"The evidence is clear that in the long run, the kids who achieve the greatest success are not the ones who faced a ton of pressure to get straight A’s," Adam said. "They're the ones who were taught to be concerned about others and show compassion."
Using nouns is a great way to encourage acts of kindness. There's a great experiment in preschools where if toddlers are asked not, 'Will you help?' but 'Will you be a helper?' They are 22 to 29 percent more likely to help."’ (Why Teaching Kids Kindness is Important)
Benefits of Teaching Kids Kindness
“Experts have determined that showing kindness changes the brain, and that selfless acts of giving provide physical and emotional benefits needed for a well-rounded individual. This is why it is essential for children to learn kindness early on.
Here are just a few of the many benefits your children will experience from learning the values such as kindness:
- Happy children – Study shows that kindness activates the joyful area of the brain. Pleasure resulting in kindness activates the need to replicate those feelings either as a receiver or a giver.
- Improved health and less stress – Being kind increases happiness and decreases stress.
- Greater Sense of Belonging and Improved Self Esteem – Even small acts of kindness create feelings of self-worth and belonging. Acts of kindness increase energy and give a wonderful feeling of optimism.
- Increased Feelings of Gratitude – Children learn to appreciate what they have when helping those less fortunate.
- Better Concentration and Improved Results - Kindness is a key ingredient that helps children feel good. Having a positive outlook increases attentions spans and enables more creative thinking which can produce better results at school.
- Less Bullying – Research has documented that the effects of bullying can be significantly reduced by integrating kindness based programs
- Reduced Depression - Research has discovered that an act of kindness increases levels of serotonin (a natural chemical responsible for improving mood) in the brain. Serotonin levels are increased in both the giver and receiver of an act of kindness, as well as anyone who witnesses that kindness, making it a wonderful natural antidepressant.” (Reasons Why Teaching Kindness is Essential)
How to Teach Kids to be Kind
Modeling kindness as parents is very important when it comes to teaching our kids how to be kind. However, it may not be enough to really develop the character trait of being kind. Kindness is a learned behavior and is best taught through repetition and action. Incorporate kindness every day in some way. Here are some ideas:
1- Kindness Within
Kindness doesn't only mean acts of service, but being kind to oneself is so important as well. Here is an awesome activity to teach your kid to talk nicely to himself, and ultimately giving himself the opportunity to see his beautiful self-worth.
Check out this mindset activity for kids:
One of the best ways to teach your kid to compliment is by example. Build up those around you including your child. This bulletin board set is amazing to teach kids different ways to compliment others and make them feel good!
A compliment circle is generally used in a classroom, but is a great idea for home too! Every night before bedtime sit with your kid and have that special time. Give them a compliment, have them accept it and claim it, and then give you one back in return. Teaching them this gift will help them grow into a kind and beautiful adult. Just one kind compliment can completely change someone’s day!
Teaching your child empathy is the foundation of kindness. Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes. Notice that person on the street who needs an extra smile? Make sure your kid sees that smile. Point out situations where your kid is naturally feeling empathetic but doesn't know it or recognize it.
Zerotothree.org has amazing ways to teach a child empathy:
- Empathize with your child.
- Talk about others’ feelings.
- Suggest how children can show empathy – “Let’s go get some ice for Marco’s boo-boo.”
- Read stories about feeling and discuss the characters’ experiences.
- Be a role model.
- Use “I” Statements (I don’t like when you hit me. It hurts.)
- Validate your child’s difficult emotions. “You are really mad mommy turned off the TV. I understand. I know you love watching your show. When you’re done being mad come help mommy make lunch.”
- Use pretend play.
- Think through the use of “I’m sorry.” “Sierra, look at Jess. She’s very sad and crying. She’s holding her arm where you pushed her. Let’s go see if she’s okay.”
- Be patient.
4- Teach kids to say thank you
Teach your child the gift of a thank you; whether it's a thank you note to their friend or teacher, or just the words “thank you.” Make sure please and thank you roll off your tongue at every chance so your child is hearing you model the behavior.
Splat Says Thank You! is a great book to teach kids to say thank you.
Volunteering is an excellent way to extend acts of kindness. Look up your local animal shelter and see how they could use your help. A local food bank or soup kitchen are other choices to give back to the community.
6- Kindness Rocks
My son loves making Kindness Rocks! First we go on an adventure to collect perfect rocks to paint. Usually with a flat side. Then at home we decorate with paint. Painting them white first and letting them dry, then painting with other colors makes the designs more vibrant. There are also Kindness Rock kits you can get at the store with designs that go on like temporary tattoos. We always write a kind message:
- You rock!
- You’re amazing!
- You’re special.
- You are cool.
- Lucky Rock.
- You are Loved.
- And more!
After the rocks have dried, we take them with us on hikes, the beach, and really anywhere to leave for people to find.
Chanteur Kids Jewelry wrote a step-by-step blog on how to make kindness rocks.
7- Donate your favorite books that you don't read anymore
Have a bunch of books lying around that you used to love but don't read anymore? Have your child donate them, a great act of kindness. These kids will be thrilled to receive your old books, but new to them. Check out these 5 ways to donate books.
8- Reward for acts of kindness
Show your kid that it is so worth it to be kind. Make sure to reward them with encouraging words when you see them acting kind to others. And once a bunch of kindness has built up, take a trip to your kindness box - a container full of prizes that they get to choose from when they do something nice. The container can have prizes or little notes that have fun activities to do – go get an ice cream for example.
Teach your kid the gift of surprises! Everyone loves receiving surprises, whether it's that little post note with the words ‘I love u’ or picking up a favorite treat for someone else. These little acts of kindness will show your child how to put a smile on someone’s face.
Smile and the world smiles back at you! Try to smile around your kid often, and ultimately it will cause them to smile a lot, too. Tickle your child, showing them the amazing feeling of a smile. Also, have some fun smiling at other people – The Smile Game is cool. Ask kids, “Did you know if you smile, it’s contagious? Try smiling at someone to play the Smile Game!”
11. Ask the question – “Who did you help today?”
We often ask our kids how was their day, how was science lab, etc. But one question to include is, “Who did you help today?” This not only gets the conversation about being kind to others started, but reminds kids to be kind throughout the day. When asked often, kids will start doing acts of kindness so they can tell you all about it.
12. Kindness Books -
There are a ton of kindness books that teach kids kindness through stories and characters. Check out these books about kindness for ages 3-5.
- Support Brands who promote kindness -
There are a ton of kids brands that have a mission to be kind and this is a great way for kids to get involved. For example, Chanteur kids jewelry is on a mission to teach young kids to embrace their unique differences and authentic selves (which builds confidence!) and to be kind every day to create a happy world.
A pretty mind, heart, and soul = true beauty.
Another brand we love are Kind Bars, one of our favorite healthy snack bars for kids. Their mission is:
“We know that kindness can bring us together. Kindness can be a transformative force for good – encouraging people to step out of their comfort zones and discover each other’s humanity. By inspiring every day kindness, we believe we can create a kinder, more empathetic world.”
- Send Kind Thoughts -
“Kindness can sometimes be as simple as a wish for the well-being of others. In mindfulness class, I ask my students to imagine someone (or a whole lot of someone’s) they want to send kind thoughts to and then to say out loud, ‘May they be happy. May they be healthy. May they be safe.’ This practice helps kids get into the habit of thinking kind thoughts more often. Source: Fun Ways to Teach Kindness to Kids
- Use Mindful Speech -
“A simple way to practice mindful speaking is known as ‘The Three Gates.’ Before talking, your child can ask herself the following questions: ‘Are my words true? Are they helpful? Are they kind?’ If her words cannot pass through these three gates, they should remain unsaid.
“Of course there will still be times your child’s words are hurtful or unkind. In these instances, talk about what happened, and what she would do differently next time. You can also make a plan for apologizing to the other person, and working to make it right.” Source: 7 Ways to Teach your Child About Kindness
- Involve your Child in Gift Buying -
Whether it’s during a holiday or a birthday, involve your child in the gift buying process. Ask, “What do you think Anna would like as a gift for her birthday?” Brainstorm ideas together, make a list, and then purchase. Wrap the gift together and have your child create a homemade card.
- Kindness for the Mail Carrier -
This is a fun one. Leave a treat for the mail carrier in your mailbox. Have your child help you make a thank you card and add a gift card. Talk about how the mail carrier comes almost every day of the week, rain or shine, to make sure we get our mail. Talk about appreciating their hard work and ask your child how the mail carrier will feel when they see their treat inside the mailbox.
- Take Chalk and Toys to the Playground to Share –
This is a great way to show kindness to other kids we don’t know – or friends we do know while at the playground. Share chalk to draw on the blacktop or toys to play with. Seeing the other kids happy and smile is a great way to teach kindness.
- Recycle and pick up trash
Being kind is not only meant towards people. Teaching kids to be kind to our surroundings and especially our planet is a very important lesson. Teach kids to recycle and reduce waste (reusable water bottle, reusable snack bags, choose eco-friendly sunscreen like our favorite ThinkBaby, recycle plastic at home, recycle and return bottles, walk instead of drive, and more.).
Going to a local beach with gloves and a trash bag to pick up trash is another way to show kindness to Mother Earth.
- Order pizza for your local police station and/or fire fighters
Let’s end our list of ways to teach kids kindness with a super fun one! Surprise your local police department and/or fire department by ordering pizza delivery to their station. Have the pizza station leave a kindness note like: “Hi, we are a family in Milford and my 6-year-old is practicing more ways to be kind. We love our police / firefighters and appreciate all you do so… pizza is on us! Enjoy! Thank you for your service and protecting our community.”
Thank you for reading our blog on how to teach kids to be more kind.
Written by Woombie, the best baby swaddle that is safe.