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Five year old Isabelle came home from school one day crying her eyes out. Apparently two little girls in her kindergarten class told her she couldn’t sit with them at lunch.
This of course hurt her feelings and made her very upset. Unfortunately, stories like Isabelle’s aren’t uncommon.
Kids being unkind to one another is a common problem in schools and also at home with siblings. This is why it’s so important that we cultivate a spirit of kindness in our children.
Teaching kids how to be kind is crucial to their social and emotional development. Kids who are kind tend to get along well with others, feel good about themselves, exhibit self-control, and are a positive influence on others.
Fortunately, getting kids to jump on the kindness bandwagon is not that difficult. According to Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist who runs the Making Caring Common project, children are hard-wired to be kind and empathetic.
So how do we get kids to be kind? First, we must model for them what being kind looks like. Then we need to encourage them to participate in acts of kindness that benefits others.
Patty O’Grady, an expert in neuroscience, emotional learning, and positive psychology states that:
children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it and talking about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling it so that they can reproduce it.”
One of the best ways for kids to “feel” what being kind feels like is by practicing acts of kindness. Check out the following acts of kindness ideas for kids. (Some of these ideas require adult supervision):
- Share with someone
- Do someone’s chores
- Give someone a hug
- Help make a meal
- Draw a picture for someone
- Clean up someone else’s mess
- Write someone a thank you note
- Play a game with someone you don’t usually play with
- Donate old toys
- Visit a nursing home
- Read a book to someone
- Donate books you’ve already read
- Make someone laugh
- Give someone a high five
- Push in someone’s chair at school
- Make a picture for someone in your class
- Help your teacher clean up
- Hold a door for someone
- Give someone a compliment
- Let someone get in front of you on line
- Write a thank you note to your teacher
- Pick up trash and put it in the garbage
- Leave a nice note in someone’s cubby or locker
- Read to a younger sister or brother
- Donate food to the food pantry
- Help a neighbor clean up their yard
- Let someone else choose (i.e what TV show to watch, what to have for dinner, what game to play, etc.)
- Leave a thank you note in the mail box for the mail carrier
- Volunteer at a pet shelter
- Call a grandparent or other family member just to say ‘I love you’
Related Article: 30 Acts of Holiday Kindness
If you want to make these acts of kindness ideas fun, I’ve created an interactive Kindness Explorer Activity Pack . The activity pack comes with two sets of kindness scavenger hunts, one for home and one for school. The kindness scavenger hunts offer kids a creative way to do kind deeds for others while having fun.
The idea is that they will aim to complete as many acts of kindness ideas as they can during the course of a week. You can choose to give kids a prize when they complete a certain amount of kind deeds.
I typically don’t give prizes because I want the kids to understand that the positive feelings they experience while doing any of these acts of kindness ideas is a prize in itself.
However, I understand that some kids might need a little extra motivation to buy in. Use your own discretion! The acts of kindness ideas below are designed for younger kids. There is also an ink-friendly version of these printables.
The kindness scavenger hunts below can be used with older kids.
The activity bundle also includes this fun Kindness Explorer file folder game in which kids get to discover how to be kind to others.
Children are given 54 Kind and Unkind scenario cards and must decide whether the behavior in each scenario is kind or unkind as they go on their Kindness Explorer journey.
So far this is a hit with the kids I work with. If you would like to check out a sample of this Kindness Activity Pack, I do have a sample you can test out.
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