Raising kind kids: Simple acts can cultivate compassion
If there’s one thing the world can always use a bit more of, it’s kindness. Parents and caregivers have a unique opportunity to help instill kindness and compassion in children. In addition to adding a dose of cheer today, it can develop empathy and lead to greater emotional intelligence that carries through to adulthood.
“November and December are opportunities for lots of giving, but it doesn’t have to be a special occasion. We can teach kids about kindness any time! It’s not just a one stop shop and it’s never too early to teach children how to do this,” said Dena Wentz, LMSW, social worker in our cystic fibrosis program. “As kids grow and develop, so can the activities they engage in to spread kindness in their family, school, neighborhood and community.”
Simple acts of kindness for kids
With friends and family:
- Write or visit friends and extended family often
- Send birthday, get well or thinking of you cards
- Go to a friend’s or sibling’s baseball or soccer game to cheer them on
- Drop off or send an anonymous surprise to a friend
- Make something – sweet treat, bracelet, artwork, flower bouquet – for someone
- Write a nice note to the teacher
- Stand up for someone if you notice them being bullied
- Ask someone to play
- Share supplies or explain something to someone in your class
In the neighborhood:
- Leave a surprise in someone’s mailbox
- Install a little free library
- Help a neighbor with yardwork or bring their trash can to their driveway
In the community:
- Take a meal or treat to someone who isn’t feeling well
- Compliment someone
- Donate toys, clothing or food to others who may be in need
- Send thank you cards to helpers in the community
- Pick up trash
- Donate books to a school in need
- Hold the door for someone, or let them go first in line
- Write inspiring messages in chalk at the park
Make kindness a family priority
Ask kids how they can show kindness to others. They’re likely to have some great ideas of their own!
Children are always watching how the adults in their lives interact with and help others in the world. While acts of kindness aren’t done for the recognition, it can be helpful to share the ways you’re spreading kindness to others too. At dinner or bedtime, talk about ways that each member of the family shared or received kindness that day. There are many great children’s books with story lines related to kindness and compassion that can help reinforce the importance and provide new ideas.
Don’t forget to be kind to yourself!
Kindness isn’t always easy, especially on hard days or when others aren’t treating us as we’d like. These situations provide opportunities to talk to a trusted person about how to overcome this. We can work to find ways to spread joy and compassion when we and others need it most. Sometimes treating ourselves to a favorite activity or some kind words in the mirror are just as as important as sharing kindness with others.