Giving the gift of kindness.
As Elf on a Shelf will tell you: Father Christmas is watching. But what are the traits of good behaviour that we most value in children? Turns out, a major one is kindness – and that can be difficult for young children to learn.
This Christmas, the Clangers are helping teach kids to be kind – which, in the Season of Goodwill, seems entirely appropriate. The adorable cartoon creatures, known for their kindness, for living on a moon, eating green soup and communicating only in whistles have launched a new campaign, #ClangersForKindness.
The great news is that children are inherently kind. Research commissioned by the Clangers showed that more than two thirds of UK children share toys, sweets and treats, as well as helping out their parents regularly. Of the parents surveyed, they reported that their children would undertake acts of kindness, like drawing someone a picture, or helping other children – among others.
Conversely, the survey reported the top two traits that children struggle with being, ‘not putting your toys everywhere’ and ‘not interrupting when someone is talking’, which arguably are more good manners than traits of kindness. ‘Teaching children that they can’t always have their own way’, helping them develop patience and ‘not shouting’ were at number three, four and five of the survey.
The #ClangersForKindness campaign aims to promote everyday kindness for children and, in this world of upheaval and uncertainty, we think it’s a great idea. They’ve a set of tools online to help busy parents, teachers and carers along their kindness journey, including a downloadable Kindness Chart, which helps them track their kind deeds – it’s adorable.
As they say, kindness, like laughter, is contagious – pass it on.
Kindness: Top kindness tips to practice with your children
1. Be kind:
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.
2. 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.
3. 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
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. Take part in Clangers For Kindness:
Download the Clangers kindness wall chart from The Clangers that has different kind things you can do to help make the world a kinder place.