Every parent wants their kid to grow up to be a kind person. One great place to start is by modeling kindness is yourself. Teachers and parents can also help encourage kindness in children by doing activities that help teach the quality. If you’re a parent or teacher looking to encourage kindness in kids, the following exercises will help.
1. Stand Up If…
Have children sit in a circle. Then, start by asking kids to choose a characteristic of another person. These characteristics can be as general as hair color, or as specific as a sport they play or a color they like. Then, go around the circle and have each child take turns sharing the characteristic they chose, by saying: “Stand up if [insert characteristic here].” Then, every child who fits that characteristic should stand up. Children can look around the circle and learn about their peers. This activity helps reveal more personal details about each child and encourages active listening to one another.
2. The Kindness Jar
Start a jar that you fill with a penny every time you notice a kind act. When you do notice a kind act, announce that act to the kids — then show them that you are adding a penny. At the beginning, you can explain why you thought that the act was kind. Once the kids get used to it, ask them to explain why an act was kind. You can also ask kids to report to you if they witness a kind act, and announce and add a penny in for that as well. When the jar is full, buy the class or group a small treat – like popsicles on a hot day or a new game or book for the classroom.
3. The Toothpaste Experiment
Try combining a science lesson with a kindness lesson. Give every child a small tube of toothpaste, a paper plate, and a plastic spoon. Then, tell them to squeeze the entire tube of toothpaste out onto the plate. (Fun!) When they’re done, tell them to try to get the toothpaste back into the tube using the spoon (they won’t be able to). Once they’ve found it’s fruitless, explain to them about how toothpaste tubes work and describe what a vacuum is. Then, explain to them that mean words are similar to toothpaste. Once you put them out into the world, you can’t take them back no matter how hard you try, so it’s important to think hard about what you say and do.
Not only will they motivate kids to be nicer to and show empathy for one another, they’ll also help your kids have fun, too! So how do you teach your children about kindness?