It is important for children to understand how to perform even the smallest acts of kindness, whether it is picking up someone's pencil that has fallen to the floor or visiting an elderly neighbour. Whether you are wanting to demonstrate to a child the importance of kindness or have them practice being kind, there are a few activities you can do to teach children the importance of being kind.
According to research, children who have served one hour or more each week doing volunteer work were less likely to be involved in at-risk behaviours, such as alcohol consumption or skipping school. Volunteering is a great way to teach children how to be kind and give back to their community. Once a week, have them volunteer at a food pantry, homeless shelter or even collect trash from the streets. Not only will volunteer work teach children to be kind, it will also raise their self-esteem and teach them to be more responsible as well.
Visit an Elder
Teach your child to reach out and spend time with someone in need, such as an elderly man or woman. If there is an elderly family friend or even a neighbour you know who lives alone and is in need of companionship, encourage your child to visit that individual at least once a week. Help the child bake cookies or draw pictures to give to the elder. If the elder is able, have your child offer to spend one day a week or month doing an activity with the elder, such as baking a cake, taking a walk, or playing a board game. If you do not have an elderly neighbour in need, consider visiting a nursing home and spending time with residents there.
Random Act of Kindness
Have kids complete at least one random act of kindness each day, whether it's including a shy peer in a group game, buying a meal for a homeless person or donating a toy to a local thrift store or Salvation Army. Have the children keep track of their acts of kindness each day for a week. At the end of the week, have the children tally their acts of kindness. Reward them with chocolate Kisses or other small treats for each act of kindness they completed. This can be done in a family setting or with a class in school or church.
Show children a travel-sized tube of toothpaste. On a paper plate, squeeze all of the toothpaste from the tube. Ask the children if there is anyone who thinks they can put the toothpaste back into the tube. When they discover the toothpaste cannot be put back into the tube, compare this to how we treat others. This will help children visualise that for every cruel or mean thing we say, we are unable to take it back, even if we apologise. This activity is appropriate for a parent to demonstrate to a child, or for a teacher to show an entire class.