First and foremost, what is kindness? Kindness refers to the behaviors toward others that are compassionate, genuine and require the ability to empathize. Behaviors that are considered kind are often centered on consideration for others and being able to understand and meet another person’s needs.
Why is teaching Kindness important?
As parents, we get caught up in making sure that our kids have access to a good education which is often held up as the route to success. Don't get me wrong, education is important and some parents may worry teaching kindness could actually cause a child to potentially lose their edge in today’s competitive world.
However, research shows that kindness has a positive influence on a range of academic, health, and social outcomes for kids.
When we are kind, hormones are released in the brain which protect heart health, reduce stress and increase positive feelings.
Children also experience more fulfilling and healthy relationships with those around them because they are socially aware and can empathize with others.
Teaching our kids kindness can help set our children up in good stead to be successful and happy adults. Teaching kindness increases their self-esteem, increased motivation to learn, improved attentiveness, and decreased negative behaviour such as bullying
A study of nine to 11-year-olds found that those students who regularly performed kind acts were, not only more socially acceptable to their peers, but their actions benefited the well being of the entire class as the students were more likely to be inclusive and less likely to bully each other and help them develop positive perceptions of their world.
Teaching them to do nice things for other people now could be the key to helping them recognize opportunities to show kindness later in life.
While your child may pick up a few lessons on kindness by observing their peers, they'll also learn from the example set by their parents.
Perform acts of kindness with your child to teach them how to be generous, compassionate, and giving.
There are many opinions on how best to foster kindness in your child. We took a simple approach that we could easily include in our day to day life and engagement with our kids.
It's a simple 7 step approach which we have included in both the Dream Scaping Journal and Dream Cast Cards which ties the kindness learning experience together.
The steps are as follows.
Help with Household chores and cleaning up: I always say, helping starts at home. The first step in kindness for a young child is helping. Provide your child with opportunities to be helpful around the house in order to teach kindness. Weave lessons of kindness into your daily routine.
- packing snacks or getting dressed,
- help with cleaning up or setting the table for dinner time.
- help siblings or grandparents
Volunteering and Donating: Here are a few ways you can encourage your child to donate items to people in need:
- Gather gently used toys and donate them to an orphanage, homeless shelter, or domestic violence shelter. Encourage your child to pick out which toys they no longer need. Talk to your child about where the toys are going and let them pick out which toys they are willing to donate.
- Help your child identify clothes that they can donate to other children. Give them some say over which items they want to donate.
- Make a meal and deliver it to an elderly neighbor, a relative, or a friend.
- Donate gently used books to the library or a charity.
- Write a thank you note: Thank you notes don’t have to involve forcing your kids to write letters to everyone after they've received gifts. Instead, teach your child there are always people you can thank outside of holidays.
- Make a gift for someone: Encourage your child to create small gifts they can give away to others.
- Talk to a new student or friend: This is a big one, we have moved several times with our kids which meant a different school for them, we also ways take the time to watch the interaction that have with their new school mates, its very often the kids that talks to the new kid that became a a good friend. This is massively important later in live. as you will be someone that has many friends because you took the time to speak to someone new.
- Share something with someone that will make them smile: This encouraged social engagement and build confidence and friendship all at the same time.
- Compliment or Smile to someone new today: Random acts of kindness can be as simple as saying something nice to someone. Teach your child to make it a habit to offer compliments and praise other people’s efforts.