Random Acts of Kindness Day is a holiday that is gaining popularity in the US. This holiday was first celebrated in New Zealand in September, and has grown in popularity in the United States to bring some light into after the last few years have been challenging globally. Although the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, founded by Will Glennon was created in 1995, this holiday has exploded since 2019. In today’s blog post, we will explore what kindness is, how we can teach children to practice kindness every day, and how we can help our child practice on Random Acts of Kindness Day this year!
What is Kindness?
Before we can celebrate Random Acts of Kindness, we need to first answer the question: what is kindness? Kindness is the ability to express generosity without the expectation of a returned favor. In order to be kind, one has to display an action that is serving to another, even if the person being served has nothing to give in return.
Why Should We Teach Children to be Kind?
Social emotional learning in general is becoming a hot topic in early childhood education. Social emotional learning is the process of teaching children how to recognize and manage their feelings as they navigate new challenges and relationships in school. Kindness is one of the important pillars to teach children for proper social development. Children who display kindness are proven to be happier as acts of kindness trigger an emotional response in the brain. Simply put, it feels good to do good, and helps in preventing depression in young children. Furthermore, acts of kindness also help our children experience a deep sense of community and belonging. Children’s ability to make connections expands as they learn to recognize needs in others, show selflessness, and build friendships through acts of kindness. Lastly, in classrooms where kindness is practiced, bullying rates are shown to decrease. Kindness is infectious. Once your child is actively practicing kindness, odds are the children around them will pick up, too, leading to less acts of bullying for everyone.
How do We Teach Children to Be Kind?
We do not have to wait until random acts of kindness day to teach children to be kind! Children can learn this important life skill through explicit instruction, modeling, and time for reflection each day.
To introduce your child to kindness, we recommend reading one of the books listed below, sorted by age category as these stories give tangible real life examples of ways to practice being kind.
Kindness Makes Us Strong
Little Blue Truck
Oscars Tower of Flowers
If You Plant a Seed
We’re All Wonders
Because Amelia Smiles
Each of these books emphasizes the importance of caring for others and are a perfect way to begin having this dialogue with your child! As you read, make sure to take the time to stop and notice why the characters complete the acts of kindness, and the effects of these choices. Challenge your child to think about what would have happened in the stories if the characters did not show their acts of kindness. Challenge your child with the question: why was it important for the character to be kind in the story.
Once you read one of these books, or other books with a similar theme, take time to model kindness for your child to continue the dialogue! This could be making an extra effort to smile and wave at neighbors on the way home from school, offering to help a child’s friend by taking them to school one week, paying for the family behind you in the drive through line, and more. It is important that you help your child notice these moments, and talk about the effect of these choices. Furthermore, challenge your child to find ways that other adults and children are being kind. Perhaps a neighbor smiles at them on the way home from school, or someone compliments you in line at the grocery store. Or maybe you see someone help a neighbor move something heavy from their car. When you notice these moments, point them out to your child so they know you are not the only one.
Lastly, encourage a time of reflection with your child each day after introducing kindness. Meal times are an easy way to incorporate this time into your daily schedule. Share with your child how you practiced kindness each day, and ask them to likewise share with you. Talk through ways that others were kind to you and how that made you feel as well as how you displayed kindness, and what happened as a result. Deepen this conversation by asking “what if we had not done that?” to help your child realize the impact of their actions.
What to Do for Random Acts of Kindness Day
Now that your child is a pro at kindness, challenge them to do even more on Random Acts of Kindness Day! Below we created a list of fun ways to remind your child to be a little extra kind on Acts of Kindness Day.
- Make a plan. Talk to your child ahead of time, and make a kindness checklist for the day. This could include things like- smile at someone new today, find a friend who is alone and ask them to join you at lunch or recess, write a note to someone in your class who looks like they need some encouragement, or anything else your child may brainstorm with you!
- Pack an extra snack in your child’s lunch with a note encouraging them to share their favorite snack with someone in their class. Having this reminder halfway through the day will help them remember the holiday and give them a clear way to celebrate it right then and there.
- Help your child pick out something nice to give to their teacher, a coach, or a mentor. Perhaps a cookie or a sonic drink to brighten their day. Pair this with a note thanking them for the way they encourage them each and every day.
- Find a way to participate in an act of kindness as a family. Consider taking your child after school to help at a food pantry, to donate to an organization you believe in, or make cards at home to say thank you to community heroes like police officers and firemen.
- Call a local florist and ask them to deliver a bouquet of flowers to someone at a local hospital or nursing home who “needs it the most”.
- When you go to the park or to walk the family dog, encourage your child to be on the lookout for trash that needs to be cleaned up.
- Make it a competition. If you have multiple children, encourage them to keep track of all of their acts of kindness throughout the day by keeping a kindness log. At the end of the day, whichever child has completed the most acts of kindness gets to pick the family dinner.
- Participate in the Random Acts of Kindness Week. This website gives challenges each day on how to show kindness in easy and fun ways.
Kindness is a skill we can teach our children anywhere and anytime, but we hope you will take some extra time to show a little kindness this week. We cannot wait to hear about how you are working with your child to be kind, and what happens as a result.
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