How to Be Kind To Others: Practical Tips For Teaching Kindness
Looking for some concrete ways to incorporate more kindness into your family’s daily life? There are lots of opportunities to slip in acts of kindness, both big and small.
Practical Ways to be Kind
Teach your family kindness by joining a Kindness Campaign
One way to get started is to look for inspiration from an already established kindness-focused group. There are actually quite a few out there. For example, you and your family can participate in Global Pay it Forward Day, which happens annually on April 28th. On that day, participants make a conscious effort to do something nice for someone else. That person will then do something nice for someone else, and so on to create a ripple of kindness. The organization’s website has ideas for how to get involved in promoting the pay it forward concept, as well as concrete ideas for nice things to do.
The Kind Campaign is another organization that aims to spread kindness. Its work stems from Finding Kind, a documentary movie about the effects of bullying on girls. From there, the Kind Campaign organization has built a kindness curriculum and sponsors school assemblies to “bring awareness and healing” and to reject bullying in favor of finding kindness. Consider asking your kid’s teacher or principal about incorporating the Kind Campaign curriculum or planning an assembly.
But you don’t have to wait for one day in April, or a big school event to start exercising your kindness muscles. Kindness.org has a free classroom curriculum as well as family resources with ideas and activities to help you bring more kindness into your home and community.
Or, check out the Kindness at Home Program from The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, a non profit organization working to make kindness the norm. (They also promote a Random Acts of Kindness Day annually, on February 17th, by the way!) Their program has materials and concrete ideas built to help you start, and maintain, a kindness revolution in your home by breaking kindness down into six basic concepts – respect, caring, integrity, inclusiveness, responsibility, and courage.
Teach kindness in your home
Looking for something more simple than committing yourself to a whole campaign? No problem! There are lots of ways to infuse your family’s life with kindness.
Examples of being kind: Simple Kindness Activities for your kids
Make Kindness a family affair.
The actions and activities you do together as a family have a big impact on normalizing behavior and communicating expectations. Make conscious choices to do things together as a family to show kindness towards others. Bake cookies together to bring to the new neighbors as a welcome gift. Get together to gather clothes to donate but make it fun: Put on some music and create a fashion show to help decide what stays and what can move on.
Share family resources and responsibilities to teach kindness.
Remember what we learned in preschool: Sharing is caring! It’s great to emphasize how kind it is to share what you have with others – those in your family are no exception. It’s entirely appropriate to keep some things adults only, but when you can, make a point of sharing the things that bring you joy with your kids so that they can experience the joy too.
But remember that it’s also a great thing to share responsibilities. There are lots of things that need to happen to keep your household running – and everyone can and should pitch in. Your kids may not see it immediately, but help explain that when they share in household chores, you all have more free time to do the fun things!
Emphasize gratitude when showing how to be kind.
Start a gratitude practice to spotlight things you and your family feel grateful for. Pay particular attention to pointing out times when others showed you kindness and how that affected you, no matter how small. Maybe a store clerk smiled and complimented you on your super stylish outfit. Describe how that little comment gave you a little more pep and confidence in your day. Pointing out the ways in which other people’s acts of kindness affected you can help kids recognize what a profound impact even a small kind gesture can have.
Play kindness games to teach kids how to be kind.
There are an infinite number of ways to help others and to incorporate small acts of kindness wherever and whenever you can. How about making it a game to think of as many ways to show kindness as you can? In fact, making kindness fun is a great way to insert more of it in your family life. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- I spy kindness. As an adaptation of the classic “I spy with my little eye” game, you can look all around you for acts of kindness. At dinner, try reflecting back on your day and taking turns repeating all the times you or someone you saw did something kind. Start each example with, “I spy with my little eye…” Or, put your Kindness Spy Glasses on before watching a movie, a TV show, or reading a book. Stop the story to point out every time anyone notices a character doing something kind.
- Kindness scavenger hunt. Think of roughly ten small kind things anyone can easily do, such as say thank you or hold the door open for the person behind you. Draw these up on a game board or use this one from Kindness.org. Then spend a few days paying close attention to those around you. When you witness one of the acts of kindness from the game board - or do one yourself! – you can mark it off.
- Kindness jar or kindness board. There are a few different ways to approach a kindness jar. One is to brainstorm small acts of kindness, write them down on slips of paper, and put them in the jar. Then, make it a regular habit (can be every day, every week, whatever works for your family) to pick out a piece of paper and spend that day (or week) focusing on doing that particular act of kindness as much as you can. Another way to do this is to spend some time at the end of each day to reflect on the kind things you and others did that day. Write them down and collect them in a jar or post them on a board. The next time you’re feeling down or having a rough day, look at the jar or board to remind yourself how much kindness is in your life.
- Compliment game. This one is pretty easy. Have everyone in the family give each family member a compliment. This can be a great activity for a family dinner. Or, you can also make a compliment day, in which everyone focuses on giving five compliments to anyone they encounter throughout the day. Bonus points if you all talk about the experience at the end of the day, including what it was like to give the compliment and how you think it affected the person you complimented.
Whether you go big or go small, join a campaign or forge your own path, there are many ways to bring more kindness into your life. So go find what feels right for you and embrace kindness!