Introduce kindness early and make it practical
It’s never too early to introduce the concept of kindness to kids. For little ones who are learning letters, we can simply start by teaching children how to spell the word kindness. Consider also turning this into a fun art project to hang on the wall. Later, when kids are old enough to grasp word meanings, offer your definition of kindness and then ask what kindness means to them. They might begin to understand kindness in simple ways, like when a friend shares a toy. This is a great opportunity to help your child understand that people express kindness in all sorts of ways, including sharing.
Make kindness a regular conversation topic
Asking questions about kindness is a great way to check-in with kids at school pick-up, during dinner, and as part of a bedtime routine: Who showed you kindness today? How did your body feel when your friend shared that toy with you? Don’t despair if you get simple, one-word responses. A lot of times, kids are taking in what we are saying and mulling it over, even if we can’t see their process. You might be surprised by what they say later!
Since kids love to have the world narrated to them, consider pointing out acts of kindness whenever you see them in daily life. Wasn’t it kind of our neighbors to pick up that litter off the street? Or That was so kind of you to hug your sister after she fell down, are simple ways of teaching kids that we can practice kindness in small ways every day, like taking care of our neighborhood spaces and caring for others when they’re in need of support. The creatures in our Caring Crew offer great ways of supporting kids in learning and practicing kindness toward themselves and others. We also love the book Have You Filled a Bucket Today? as a great tool for encouraging kindness.
Live kindness as a core value
We can create family rituals during the holidays, or any time, that teach kids kindness through actions like helping others, volunteering and making thoughtful gifts. Regular family kindness rituals offer great opportunities for kids to learn about some of the ways to practice kindness toward others and also help to promote family bonding in the process.
Children also learn about kindness by observing how adults treat themselves. Since kids are often observing us (sometimes even when we think they’re not!), we can practice kindness toward ourselves when we make a mistake. Narrating self-compassionate statements out loud can be a simple and powerful way to model kindness. Oops, I messed that up, didn’t I? That’s okay! I’ll try it again. When we are kind to ourselves, we teach kids compassion and resiliency at the same time. Studies on self-compassion indicate that when we are kind to ourselves we feel more motivated to work toward our goals.
Teaching kids kindness can be a practice that is both joyful and easy. Check out our Caring Crew and Resilient Crew, and please share your favorite ways of teaching kindness to children in the comments below!
Spread kindness through positive thought with our Kindness Activity Sheet: Download Here