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A child’s character is formed at a young age. Teaching kindness in young children builds a great foundation for kids to continue that same behavior throughout their lives.
Kindness is so important to teach kids to set them up for success in life. When someone is kind, people react more positive towards that individual. So many quotes regarding kindness exist for a reason.
“Kill them with kindness”
“No act of kindness is ever wasted”
“One kind word can change a person’s entire day”
“Kindness is a gift that everyone can afford to give”
“Kindness makes you the most beautiful person in the world, no matter what you look like”
Teach kindness to a child and you’ll develop their character, their friendship skills, their imprint they make in society, and much more. Kindness can easily be implemented in a child’s life without requiring long lessons. By pointing out what the child already does in their life that is kind, teaches children what it means to be kind.
What is kindness?
In the eyes of young children
“Helping someone else when they have something broke to fix it and make it better” Age 4
“Helping Mommy make dinner” Age 3
“Doing something nice for someone else without expecting anything back” Age 9
Kindness, according to Google, is “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.”
Many young kids know what kindness is, but they need direction from adults to know how to direct that kindness to more than only their family and friends in the classroom.
Simple ideas to teach kindness
This book is great for kids! It is directed towards elementary aged children, but you can reword some of the writing for a preschooler to understand. The general idea of the book is that each person has an imaginary bucket over their heads. Every time you do something nice, a drop of water goes into their bucket and a drop goes in your own. But when you’re not nice, a drip comes out of both people’s buckets.
After we read this book, I had my son decorate his own bucket, and my husband and I decorated our own buckets. Each time he filled our buckets or we filled his, he would put a sticker in his bucket. Once everyone got to 20 stickers, we got to do a special activity to celebrate filling up our buckets.
We still use the language learned from this story when he does something. “Did that add a drop or empty your bucket?” He’ll also mention while we’re out shopping and hears a child crying, he’ll say “S/he has an empty bucket!”
This book, I believe, is one of the best books to teach kindness and making kids aware of other peoples’ feelings.
This is a great book to teach a child to respect others and always reciprocate kindness to others.
A little girl is excited about her name until she goes to school and everyone makes fun of it. This book teaches kids how their behavior can affect someone else and make them feel, and showing kindness helps make someone feel better.
“Warm Fuzzy” notes–
My kindergarten teacher had us write “warm fuzzies” to the student of the week to show kindness to each other. This is a great activity for children to do. All it requires is paper and pencil to make someone’s day! I had my son do this for his preschool class. He had to think of 1 reason why his classmate was his friend, and then he delivered them right before Christmas.
I didn’t allow a generic reason like “you play with me”. Receiving a note that is specific means that much more than a generic response. So instead of “you play with me”, I had him write “you play (XYZ) with me in the gym”
Make cookies to deliver to the local police station, hospital, fire station, or local military recruiting office.
All of these individuals work hard for the community and country. They work long hours and don’t always get the respect they deserve. Having your child help bake a treat and deliver them, develops an understanding that kindness can go farther than the immediate people they encounter every day. Kindness can be showed for others that they don’t even know.
Help around the house-
At such a young age, children are excited to help versus hearing the words “No, you’re too young” or “let me do it for you”. Give children tasks to help and feel a part of the household. Allowing the child to learn how to do certain tasks, like sorting the laundry, will soon turn into an “I’ll do that” especially if it’s turned into a fun activity!
Donate old toys and/or clothes–
Have your child be a part of this process. The child decides if they want the toy anymore or if it should be donated to another child who will play with it more often.
Buy a toy for someone else–
During the Christmas season, we “adopted” 2 children to buy gifts for, 1 around the same age as my son. I had my son pick out the gifts to get one of the little kid. We looked at different toys around the toy department and he settled on a toy he, himself, would enjoy because the other little boy was into the same kind of toy. He helped me wrap the gift and have it set for delivering to where it needed to go.
Let children pick the gift for a birthday party they are going to (with some helpful guidance if needed).
Moments a Day writes a great article with free printables to teach kids empathy. You discuss with the child what the other child could be feeling in these hypothetical situations, and you can take it a step further with asking what the child could do to show kindness to the child.
This article is not an exhaustive list of how to teach kindness. Children learn through example. Show kindness to a child, and they will grow up learning that this behavior is how you’re supposed to act and will follow suit.