by Aprel Phelps Downey
You know that teaching your child about kindness is important. But with a hectic life, kindness lessons can get lost somewhere in the hustle and bustle and quickly become an afterthought. When it crosses your mind again, you make a mental note to revisit the topic with your child — only this time you put that thought into action by starting a conversation on why kindness matters.
The Importance of Kindness
Kindness presents an opportunity to focus on the present moment and see how you can make a difference. By practicing kindness, your child learns to stop for a moment and see what they can do to help brighten someone’s day. They begin to feel concern for someone else, and that concern manifests in the actions they take. Making that connection impacts their ability to resolve conflicts, strengthen relationships and build positive interactions with peers.
Working to show others kindness also helps boost your child’s self-esteem. Helping one person can motivate them to perform additional acts of kindness. They begin to feel good about themselves and their ability to extend a helping hand to others. That confidence carries over into other areas of their life such as school or extracurricular activities. You can reinforce these attributes by showcasing acts of kindness at home.
Kindness Begins at Home
Your child likely encounters opportunities to show kindness throughout the day. These moments do not necessarily need to be grand gestures. Your child will not need to step outside of their comfort zone to show kindness. They just need to learn how to recognize when someone could use a comforting word or a supportive gesture. Everything your child needs to know about practicing kindness begins at home with you.
Ask them to help you prepare a meal for another family and discuss how impactful such a gesture can be. Spend an afternoon together picking flowers from your garden or local floral store and then create a beautiful ‘thank you’ bouquet for your child’s teacher. Picking one or more ideas from the following list of random acts of kindness kids can do helps reinforce the lessons you’re teaching at home.
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1. Give Donations to the Local Community
Your local community presents a wealth of opportunities for random acts of kindness that even kids can do. Your child can look through their bookshelf, select several books they no longer read and donate them to the local library. They can do the same with toys they no longer play with or clothing they’ve outgrown. Taking a hands-on approach in deciding what items to donate helps your child build a connection to understanding how acts of kindness work.
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2. Make Thank You Notes
Thank you notes help your child understand the value in showing kindness to the individuals who work to make their life better. They can create cards for a teacher, a daycare provider, a doctor, a coach or a community helper like your mail carrier and sanitation crew. You can expand on this activity by including the police officers and firefighters within your community as well. Your child can hand-deliver these special notes to experience firsthand the joy that random acts of kindness can bring.
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3. Perform Chores for Someone Else
Chores give your child the chance to put a random act of kindness into action. Help them learn to recognize when someone needs a helping hand, then allow them to come up with a chore that can help in that situation. For example, your child can help a neighbor by bringing them their daily mail or watering the flowers in their garden (with their permission, of course). They can visit a grandparent for lunch and volunteer to clear the table afterward. At home, they can take on the responsibility of a chore for someone else without being asked to do so.
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4. Volunteer at an Animal Shelter
Children and pets are always a great combination. Your child can put their love for animals to use by engaging in random acts of kindness at your local animal shelter. Their actions can help feed the animals, give them fresh water, sweep the floors or organize items donated to the shelter. They can interact with the animals by reading to them or just give them love and attention.
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5. Create Homemade Gifts
Gift giving is a great opportunity for your child to show kindness to someone else. Their homemade gifts can be simple things such as a picture frame, a bird feeder, a pencil holder or a hand-made painting or drawing. They can use craft materials found in your home or purchase items using their own money. Give them complete control over the creation process, as that helps to strengthen their intrinsic motivation to engage in acts of kindness.
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6. Share Compliments
Random acts of kindness can be as simple as sharing a word of encouragement with someone. You can reinforce the impact of this act by making a point to give your child a compliment at least once a day. Extend the lesson one step further by sharing a compliment with a restaurant server, bank employee, or another person who helps you in some way during the day. Your child will follow your lead and begin sharing compliments with their friends, teachers and other adults in their world.
Before long, your child will be engaging in random acts of kindness without being prompted. These acts will become second nature to them and you can take comfort in knowing that they’re helping make the world a better place for all of us.
Aprel Phelps Downey is a brand storyteller, author, and writer specializing in small business marketing services. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of South Florida. She resides in Eastern Tennessee with her husband and daughter.