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Our world is becoming a less and less kind place. We have to work to teach kindness to kids but how do we go about it? What about empathy for others? It is important to give these foundations as part of running a home daycare.
Kids will pick up on the natural way you model behavior. If they see you caring for others and being kind, they will grow up to care for others and be kind. Teaching empathy is being left out of a lot of parenting these days and we need to make sure we don’t miss it.
Can you Teach Kindness?
Children can be taught to care about other people’s feelings and to fill the world with kindness, it’s not as hard as you think. First off, don’t expect too much empathy from kids too early. From birth to 3, kids aren’t really capable of seeing the needs of others, but once they turn three, they should start to exhibit some signs of empathy for other people.
Around the ages of 4-6, they should really begin to develop feelings of empathy and the capacity to seek out other people’s needs. In the early years, children can still be kind and should be taught to do so.
We also need to be careful when teaching empathy, not to take it too far with feelings of guilt and making kids feel bad for not putting other people’s needs above their own. There should be a balance. Be careful not to overdo it.
I think all of us either are or know people who care for others and leave themselves out. I definitely don’t want to raise kids that harm themselves by giving too much of themselves either.
Children learn what they live. Treating them with kindness will help them learn to be kind. Showing them grace when they make mistakes helps them show grace to other people.
Teach kindness to kids by teaching them about famous people who care. Can you think of a celebrity that has a big heart for other people? You will see your kids care if you teach them about people who care and make a difference in the world.
Think about people like Mr. Rogers, Martin Luther King, Robin Williams, Mother Theresa, Ashton Kutcher, and Maya Angelou. There are many ways to learn about them on the internet, in books, movies, and other things.
What are your kids watching? Do the tv shows they watch have caring influences? You can’t control everything they watch, but if you see a tv show, game or movie that your kids are watching that is teaching unkind things, try to divert them to another show. Studies show that kids imitate what they see on media.
Read books that teach kindness to kids
Read your kids children’s books about teaching kindness. Kids can learn a lot from books.
- Kindness is My Superpower
- Be Kind
- Kindness Counts 123
- Tomorrow I’ll be Kind
- I Walk with Vanessa
Help kids write thank you notes. Teach them to appreciate the kindness and gestures of others. If they are too young to write, you can write the words thank you on a card or piece of paper and let them draw a picture on the note.
Tell them why you are writing it and that you want to let the person who was kind to them know they appreciated it.
Talk about your feelings with your kids. Let them talk about theirs. They may even need help describing them because finding those words isn’t always easy.
Teach kids about feelings through games and art. Kids can dance feelings like mad dancing and happy dancing. You can draw feelings or paint them with bold colors. You can make different facial expressions on paper plates and ask the kids to mimic them using the words to describe each feeling.
There are lots of ways to teach kids about feelings and teach kids to be kind through age-appropriate activities. Get creative.
Best Kindness Activities for Kids
Teaching children to be kind goes way beyond leading by example. When we start at a young age, being kind to others becomes a natural habit. Here are some great kindness activities that your kids will love!
1. Random Acts of Kindness
Start a “random acts of kindness month” at the beginning of the month. You can make it a competition to see who does the kindest deeds, and celebrate at the end of the month. Or, you can create a monthly outline with one specific random act of kindness that you do as a family each day. Here are a few fun examples:
- Ding dong ditch your neighbors a treat
- Donate to a charity
- Donate your old clothes to a clothing drop box
- Give a friend a new book
- Make your sibling’s bed without them seeing
- Go visit the elderly in a nursing home
- Pick up trash on the side of the road
2. Kindness Jar
Do a fun craft where you create a jar. You can decorate it however your child likes. Then, whenever someone in the family does a kind act, they write it on paper and put it in the jar. When the jar is full, celebrate with something!
Invite your kids along with you when you volunteer in your community. Help them choose a volunteer activity that excites them, such as working at the pound with the dogs or helping at a food bank. You can even make an “essentials kit” to share with the homeless as you drive around. Try to find one volunteer activity a month, so kids see how important it is to serve those around us.
4. Kindness Notes
Receiving a kind note of appreciation is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Have a day where your entire family sits together to write cards for people you love and admire. These could be thank you cards or simply a note describing how kind that person was to you and how much that meant to you. Then, mail these notes or drop them off at the people’s house. You can also include some cookies or treats too!
5. Toothpaste Experiment
Teach that famous toothpaste experiment. Buy a new container of toothpaste at the store. Have your child squeeze out all the toothpaste onto a plate. When they are finished, put all the toothpaste back into the container. No matter how hard they try, they cannot put the toothpaste back. The same is with our words. Once we say them to someone, we cannot take them back. This will help them to always say nice words. Plus, it is a fun messy play activity!
6. Sidewalk Messages
On a nice sunny day, take some chalk and write kind messages all along the sidewalk. Your child will love decorating the concrete with positivity, especially if they see someone admire their art. Write some quotes, uplifting messages, use bright colors, and add hearts, smiley faces, flowers, and whatever comes to your mind.
7. Donate Old Clothes
We probably all have more clothes than we actually need. Take a day to help your child clear out their dresser and closet. Find all the clothes that don’t fit or never seem to wear. Choose a second-hand store or children’s club to donate them to. Have your child hand the bags so they feel pride and happiness from doing something good.
Acts of kindness for kids
8. Kindness Craft
If your child loves crafts, have them make something to give to someone else. Let your child choose someone and let them come up with something to create. Go to the store and grab all the supplies you need.
Then have your child get to work and let their creativity take over. Then, either deliver the gift or leave it on their doorstep. This activity makes your child use critical thinking to find someone to be kind to and figure out what would make that person happy.
9. Kindness Game
Have some friends over and play a kindness game together. Grab a ball and get in a circle. Throw the ball to someone, and whoever you choose to throw it to, you must say something kind about them. You cannot throw the ball to the same person twice. This will help everyone get a turn to share kind words and receive them. Go around the circle as many times as you want. Teaching your kids to be kind doesn’t have to be hard. You also don’t have to plan and prepare for a huge activity. Most of the time, you will find countless opportunities to easily teach and be nice in your everyday life. Use these activities to further instill a love for being kind in your child!
10. Lemonade Stand
Make a big batch of lemonade on a hot sunny day and have a lemonade stand with your kids. Here’s the catch: the lemonade is completely free! This will bring a smile to everyone’s face. It will also teach your child that sometimes we will work hard just to be kind to others; you don’t need money or some reward.
11. Bake Cookies
Bake some cookies with your kids to give to other family and friends. Have them come up with people they want to share the cookies with and involve them in the entire baking process, even if it takes longer and is a lot messier. You can also cut them out in the shapes of hearts and decorate them with frosting. If you are extra creative, you can try to write out kind words with frosting too!
12. Self-Care Day
Kindness begins with you, meaning you need to be kind to yourself. The kinder you are with yourself, the nicer you will be with everyone else. Teach your kids the importance of taking care of themselves with a self-care day! Choose a day and just let them take care of themselves. This could mean a bath, a nap, eating delicious food, having a movie day, or whatever else that brings them joy and relaxation. Try to do this as often as needed to help them rest and rejuvenate. A self-care day is also critical for their mental health!
Plant flowers with them and deliver them to grandparents or teachers. Showing them to care for other people’s feelings and how to do that will leave a lasting impression on them.
Teaching Kindness to Kids
When you see kids care for others, say a little something. Don’t make a big deal out of it and go overboard, but if you see a child being sad because they don’t have a toy and another child offers to give it to them, tell them you appreciate that they cared for their friend. It’s awesome how a little reinforcement will change what they think about in the future.
There is no better way to teach kids to care than to show them that the uniqueness of all of us is powerful and amazing. Ask kids what color they are and have them all hold their arms up to each other or to you. Talk about how pretty all those different colors are.
Talk about how everyone’s hair or eyes are different colors and how they are all special and lovely. Whatever differences you can find around you, let kids know how great those things are. If your friend is in a wheelchair, they may not be able to walk, but they can roll their chair and that’s pretty cool too.
This will help kids to already be looking at differences and opportunities to show empathy and to care for others with kindness as a good thing. Doing this in the younger years will help kids grow up to care about people genuinely and accept people for who they are.
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