How to Recognize and Teach Kindness

How to Recognize and Teach Kindness

Did you know World Kindness Day is November 13 each year? Do you recall your first recognition of an act of kindness?

Some children with various isms do not realize when others are mean to them. Other children with isms may recognize when someone is mean, but they may believe this is just the way the world is and feel that they are powerless to change it.

How do we convince children that they do matter? We can teach children to recognize kindness, to expect it, and to be kind in return.  We can teach kindness even when  those in positions of power are sometimes cruel.

We can all actively cultivate a culture of kindness within the classroom, within the schools, on the playgrounds and in sports.  Each and everyone of us has the power to make a difference and decrease the issue of bullying around the globe – one child at a time.

Ways to Teach Kids How to Recognize & Expect Kindness

Set Good Examples

Model kind behavior by treating others with respect. Teachers – model kindness and respect.  Parents, avoid saying mean things when someone cuts you off while you are driving. Hold the door open for that mom with the stroller – hold the door for anyone right behind you! Thank your waiters. Avoid repeating gossip about relatives, friends and acquaintances. Share fruit off your tree or vegetables from your garden with your neighbors. Volunteer at a shelter. Kindness opportunities are endless!  Browse Kindness Ideas

Use Visual Aids

Visual aids can help make the importance of kindness easier to understand. For example, you might use a chart with a sticker system for younger children.

A favorite idea of mine is the Kindness Jar! Consider starting with an empty jar.  Add a single bean for every act of kindness you see your child or student perform.  If you see an act of cruelty, remove two beans.  Offer up a tangible reward when the jar is full, like a pizza party for the class or a trip to a favorite destination for the family.

Involve the Professionals

Ask your child’s social skills coach or school guidance counselor to role-play good and bad behavior.  Involve children in the role playing activities.  Sample activity.

Encourage your child’s teacher to use to use a kindness jar.  To model and demonstrate kindness, offer to pay for the pizza party or another acceptable reward for the class.

Teachers, invite a police officer, a firefighter or another appropriate role model to talk to the class about why kind acts matter and what can go wrong when you are mean.

Keep the Discussions Going at Home

Reinforce what children have learned at school about kindness.  Many schools have adopted a Week of Respect held in October each year.  Reinforce these efforts at home.  Pinterest offers an abundance of Respect Activities for school and home.

Continue to thank your child when they do the right thing and remember to set that good example.

Read books together about people who have made a difference in the world through random acts of kindness.  Some ideas below.

Watch an inspiring family movie together and discuss the the plot and the impacts of kindness.  Some ideas below. 

Make a game out of catching people being good. Create a poster board with your children’s names on it.   When a child recognizes a kind act, they can put a sticker next their name. When 100 acts are recognized – celebrate!