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Key Takeaways:

  • Teaching kindness can promote a positive environment where kids thrive.
  • Hands-on practice is necessary for children to internalize the concept of kindness.
  • Rock painting and writing positive notes are some ideas to inspire kindness.

Kindness is an essential quality that encompasses a wide range of actions that demonstrate one’s concern for other people. Children can learn to be kind through a combination of teaching the concept of kindness and engaging in kindness activities for kids.

These activities may include writing thank you notes and making kindness rocks with positive messages to leave around for others to find. It goes without saying that hands-on practice is necessary for internalizing the concept of kindness!

If you’re looking for more ideas to try at home or in the classroom, this article offers ten examples.

The Importance of Teaching Kindness to Kids

Research shows that teaching kindness in schools can help reduce bullying and promote a positive and inclusive environment [*]. Engaging in acts of kindness can lead to increased levels of happiness. When children experience the positive feelings associated with helping others, it can boost their own mood.

Another research article mentions how selfless acts and other kindness behaviors are associated with increased life satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment [*].

Teaching kindness does not have to be difficult, especially since we have more resources available for parents and educators. While it requires effort, it does not have to be overly complicated.

10 Kindness Activities for Kids

Kindness should be instilled in children from a very young age—and we play an important role in giving them opportunities to practice it. Age-appropriate activities to teach kindness can be planned in a way that aligns with the child’s natural inclinations and experiences.

Here are ten kindness activities to consider:

1. Thank you notes

Writing thank-you notes is a wonderful way to teach children the importance of gratitude and expressing kindness through words. In this activity, kids understand the positive impact their words have on other people.

Kids 5 years and older can engage in this activity, and all they need are pieces of paper, envelopes, and colored pencils. To get started, have them think of someone who has done something kind for them, like a teacher, neighbor, or family member. Next, let them write a few sentences expressing their gratitude.

Before the activity, it would help to discuss the meaning of gratitude and why it's important to express it. Check out our All About Gratitude handout.

2. Rainbow of kindness

The "Rainbow of Kindness" activity is a fun way to teach children about kindness through art. Here, they have an opportunity to create something unique and memorable. It’s best for children ages 5 and up!

They will need 7 ice cream sticks in rainbow colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet) and colored markers. Ask your child to write something polite on each ice cream stick, such as "I appreciate you" or "You're awesome!"

Finally, arrange the sticks in the order of the rainbow and display the "Rainbow of Kindness" in a corner as a reminder to spread positivity.

3. What would you do?

"What Would You Do?" is a kindness activity that requires children to think about how they would respond with compassion in certain situations. The activity is often used in classrooms and youth groups where the topic of kindness is discussed.

While this activity can be adapted to an age group, it is most effective for children around ages 6 to 12 since they’re old enough to engage in thoughtful discussions.

All you need are cards with kindness scenarios or challenging situations. After reading a scenario, ask a child "What would you do?" to encourage them to think about how they might respond.

4. Kindness rock painting

The act of painting and sharing rocks with affirming words can be a wonderful way to share hope and love with others. Moreover, the painting process itself is therapeutic as kids express themselves artistically while they focus on positive thoughts. It’s suitable for children of all ages, but those who are younger will need adult supervision.

To get started, gather smooth rocks or stones. Prepare non-washable paint, paint brushes, and positive affirmations or kind messages. Feel free to get inspiration from our Daily Affirmations handout.

After decorating the rocks with kind messages, let them dry thoroughly, preferably overnight. Place the rocks in public spaces for others to find! Kids may also create a rock garden in a community area.

5. Volunteering

Volunteering is an excellent way to develop kindness in children by exposing them to the needs of their community. Moreover, it teaches valuable life skills, such as generosity and leadership. Elementary school-aged children are usually eager to get involved in volunteering.

The first step is to research local volunteer opportunities suitable for families with children. Gather the needed supplies and make sure to arrange transportation to and from the volunteer site.

6. Buddy homework Help

In this kindness activity, students are encouraged to help their peers with their homework. Offering assistance and support to classmates who may be struggling allows them to develop compassion towards others. Children ages 6 to 14 can try this activity as they are developing social skills at this age.

Teachers should explain to students that they will have the opportunity to help their classmates. It’s best to pair students together based on their strengths and areas of need.

While introducing the activity, we recommend discussing the importance of patience when assisting others.

7. Kindness song

Creating and singing a kindness song is a wonderful activity that lets children think about the feelings and experiences of others. They can tackle different themes, such as friendship, sharing, being welcoming to everyone, and making a difference.

This activity is ideal for elementary school-aged children, but those who are younger may still participate in simple ways. For example, they can add a few words or phrases.

To create the song, kids need a melody to work with. Instruments, such as guitars or drums, may be used. If possible, record the song to share with others!

8. Kindness calendar

A kindness calendar inspires acts of kindness on a daily basis! The way it encourages kindness is that it allows kids to track and celebrate different acts. In the process, they get to be creative.

This activity can be beneficial at any age! However, if you're thinking about having a child or teen create one, starting around ages 6 to 18 could be particularly impactful since they’re already developing their sense of empathy.

You’ll need a calendar template, markers, and other decorative items to complete the activity. Together, brainstorm a list of kind acts that are age-appropriate and achievable. Write or draw one kind act on each day of the calendar!

9. The giving jar

The Giving Jar activity encourages thoughtful acts of kindness and generosity towards others. A child is going to decide who they are making the kindness jar for—this could be their family member, friend, teacher, or neighbor.

They should get a clean glass jar and decorate it with drawings, pictures, or messages for the recipient. Items to fill the jar with may include letters, drawings, and small gifts (such as packets of tea to symbolize warmth, stickers, and origami creations).

Children of all ages can participate in creating the giving jar. Parents and teachers can introduce this activity to teach kids about caring for others.

10. Reading books about kindness

Reading stories of characters that model kind actions can help children reflect on their own behaviors. Through kindness books, they have the opportunity to understand different perspectives.

The ideal age range for this activity is 3 years and up. Make sure to choose age-appropriate books. Younger kids will benefit from books with simple language and relevant illustrations. You can also choose a book from our list of 15 Social-Emotional Learning Books for Kids in 2024.

After reading, engage your child in a discussion about the story. Ask questions like: "How did the characters show kindness in the story?" and "What are some ways you can be kind to others?”

The Bottom Line

Kids can begin learning about kindness at a young age because it is a universal feeling that everyone can relate to.

Children will discover what it means to be kind and why it's appropriate. Start with these activities that pique their curiosity and encourage active thinking!

For more resources related to kindness, check out our Character Education Posters!

References:

  1. Perkins, N., Smith, P., & Chadwick, P. (2022). Young Children’s Conceptualisations of Kindness: A Thematic analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.909613
  2. Post, S. G. (2005). Altruism, happiness, and health: it’s good to be good. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 12(2), 66–77. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327558ijbm1202_4

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