What is kindness?
Kindness is a type of behaviour marked by acts of generosity, consideration, or concern for others, without expecting praise or reward. One traits of good behaviour that we most value in children turns out to be kindness – and although this can be difficult for young children to learn – the great news is that children are inherently kind hard-wired to have empathy for others.
Kindness in Children
Kindness makes children happier, can help to reduced stress levels, and helps improve their self-esteem. Kind actions activate the joyful area of the brain, and boost well-being. Evidence shows that many children are inclined to be helpful and altruistic. But there is much we can do to both teach and reinforce this behaviour. A great book to read is How to Raise Kind Kids: And Get Respect, Gratitude, and a Happier Family in the Bargain by Thomas Lickona
So, do take the time to define kindness to them in terms they will understand. You might say, “being kind means you are concerned about other people.” or, “kind people think about another person’s feelings and just their own” or that, “kindness means helping someone who is in need”. Teaching them the power of that being kind even when others are not and that kind people never expect anything in return. As they say, kindness, like laughter, is contagious – pass it on.
How You Can Teach Kids to Be Kind to Others (and Why You Should)
Teach your children the power of Kindness with these tips – after all it’s one of the most important skills a child can learn
- Be Kind Yourself
Children see and hear everything you do, so the best way to teach them to be kind is to be kind yourself. Show kindness by not getting angry when you’re busy shopping or stuck in traffic. Talk about kindness at the end of each day, telling your child about the kind things you did, and asking them what they did to be kind that day.
- Be Kind Together
Help your children understand how good it feels to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Look for local charity fundraisers you can be part of or make time to drop in and visit an elderly neighbour or help out with their shopping. If you talk about the experience with your child at the end it will help them identify what it is about helping that made them feel good and encourage then to self-initiate this in the future.
- Visualise Kindness
Seeing is believing, so making a kindness jar together is a great way to visualise their kind behaviour. Decorate an empty pot or jam jar and each time they do a kind act, add a coin to the jar. Then when the jar is full, you could choose a charity together to donate the money to, or buy something to benefit others e.g. birdseed
- Be Kind to the World
Respecting the environment by feeding birds, picking up litter, recycling and volunteering at your local park or animal sanctuary are great ways to show your kids how to be kind to nature.
- Say Please and Thank You
There are many ways to help your children to show gratitude. After a birthday, take time with your child to write or draw a thank-you card to everyone that brought them a gift, or even just to someone that was nice to them that day.
- Give Compliments
Paying compliments is a great way to make someone’s day. Working with your children to see the positive things about people in each situation they’re in will help make this second nature to them.
- Be Kind to Everyone
Look for opportunities to teach your child about other people’s cultures, disabilities, religions and backgrounds. The best way to encourage acceptance is learning more about what makes us all different.
- Help them Understand
One of the key findings from our survey, was that children find it difficult to understand that not everyone is nice and kind. When they hear unkind things, explain that not everyone is nice and kind, but they might be feeling bad themselves and so the best way to help them is not to react and continue to be kind.
- Be Kind to Yourself
It’s so important to take time for yourself so you feel calm and relaxed and pass this feeling on to your children and make you feel kinder. Take the first step by setting aside 30 minutes a day to de-stress by doing something you enjoy and that will have a positive impact on your wellbeing.
7 Great Books about Kindness for Children
An unforgettable story that explores what a child can do to be kind, and how each act, big or small, can make a difference – or at least help a friend. And, ultimately how two simple words can change the world. Ideal for ages 3-6 yrs >> Be Kind by
A great board book for younger children that show whether we share a toy or rescue an animal, all acts of kindness – no matter how big or small – make our community stronger and a much better place. Ideal for ages 2-5 yrs >> Kindness Makes Us Strong By Sophie Beer
A jolly activity book for young people to colour, doodle and DIY their way to a more caring, kinder and showing them how they can use creativity to explore their place in the world, discover the amazing power of acceptance, and learn top tips on how to spread joy through being kind. Ideal for ages 7-11 yrs >> Be Kind! An Activity Book for Young People who care about Others by Stephanie Clarkson and illustrated by Kate Abey
A charming story with peaceful rhymes and colourful illustrations that will explain to your child what kindness means and understand what it is like to be kind, sensitive, caring, and generous. Also, included is some Acts of Kindness Cards to help promote empathy and kindness. Ideal for ages 12mths – 11yrs >> Kindness is my Superpower: A children’s Book About Empathy, Kindness and Compassion by
When a kindergarten class gets rowdy, Mrs. Ruler knows just what to do. She’s about to teach a new golden rule: KINDNESS IS COOL! Ideal for ages 5-8 yrs >> Kindness Is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler and illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa
A great book to support your children’s emotional well being and spread kindness. Filled with simple, practical ideas to help spread kindness, fun activities that can be done on their own or with friends and family and helps encourages kids to be kind to themselves, other people and the world around them. Ideal for ages 7-12yrs >> Create your own Kindness: Activities to encourage children to be caring and kind by Becky Goddard-Hill, illustrated by Clare Forrest
Kindness matters! Especially to ourselves although we talk to kids a lot about how to be friends to others we don’t much talk about how to be friends with themselves. This book offers positive self-talk and self-acceptance to help build emotional resilience, happiness, and well-being for young children. Ideal for ages 2-6yrs >> Listening with my Heart: A Story of Kindness and Self-Compassion by Gabi Garcia and illustrated by Ying Hui Tan