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Key Takeaways:

  • Kindness is important in a child’s development as caring and compassionate people.
  • Kindness benefits include being happier, feelings of belongingness, and better focus.
  • Children can start actively learning about kindness between the ages of 5 and 6 onward.

For a child to develop holistically, kindness must be instilled in them both as a concept and a behavior. Kindness activities for kids use a practical and hands-on approach to show kids the idea of kindness. Children can learn important lessons about kindness, including how to use it and when it is most important. Through the introduction of proactive kindness activities, they can also explore more complex concepts like compassion, empathy, and forgiveness.

So let's turn our attention to why teaching kindness is important for kids as well as the best kindness activities that you can do together.

The Importance of Teaching Kindness to Kids

Teaching kindness to children is extremely important in their development as caring and compassionate people.

One of the biggest benefits of teaching kindness to children is that they will be happier and more caring. Feelings of joyfulness from being kind to and helping others are proven to be contagious and encourage more kind behavior. Being kind also helps us form more connections with others, which increases happiness.

Teaching kindness is also important because it creates a greater sense of belonging and improved self-esteem. Studies have shown that people experience a sort of “helper’s high” whenever they do something good for another person. There is also a rush of endorphins that creates feelings of pride, well-being, and belonging. Such acts of kindness also increase our feelings of optimism and self-worth [*].

Being kind can also increase peer acceptance. This is because being kind is a prosocial behavior, so it may increase popularity and the ability to form more meaningful connections with others. More good deeds may be followed by greater peer acceptance.

Teaching kindness to kids is also important because it reduces stress and improves overall health. Oxytocin is released when people do acts of altruism [*] and this can significantly increase a person’s level of happiness and reduce stress.

At What Age Can Kids Learn About Kindness?

Kindness is something that is best taught as children grow, but it is never too early to teach them. By around age 5 or 6, children are better able to express their views and take part in discussions about kindness. They can also better judge kind or unkind actions and develop empathy [*].

Benefits of Kindness Activities for Kids

Kindness activities have various emotional, social, and cognitive benefits for children.

Emotional Benefits

Some of the emotional benefits of kindness activities for kids include elevated levels of joy, compassion, and emotional well-being. Children who receive acts of kindness are able to make connections that are linked to improved happiness.

Children who do these activities also have a greater sense of gratitude. By helping others, it puts things into perspective, so children are inspired to recognize the positive aspects of their own situation.

Social Benefits

Children develop better self-esteem and a greater sense of belonging when they do kindness activities. Endorphins that result from helping others create a lasting feeling of pride, optimism, and increased self-worth.

Cognitive Benefits

Acts of kindness are connected with stress reduction and increased positivity [*]. This allows for better concentration, sleep, memory, learning, and attention span.

18 Best Kindness Activities for Kids

These activities to teach kindness will help your child be more caring and empathic toward others. Here are 18 of the best kindness activities for kids:

1. Thank you notes

A simple yet effective activity, you can join your child in writing thank you notes to people that matter. This can be their teachers, friends, and family members whom they appreciate. You can do this activity for special occasions, but it is also appreciated during regular days of the year. This teaches your child that saying “thank you” is just one of the ways that we can be kind. This activity is best suited for children aged 5 and up.

2. Rainbow of kindness

Doing craft-based activities is always fun for kids and will help them create something unique and memorable. Using seven ice cream sticks in the color of the rainbow, have your child write something that is kind and polite, such as “Thank you” and “I appreciate you.” This activity will allow your child to focus on why it is good to make someone else feel good. Children aged 5 and up will enjoy this activity.

3. What would you do?

Part of teaching kindness is showing compassion. This activity involves asking your child “What would you do?” in certain scenarios. This helps your child understand when it is right to be kind. You can use templates or cards to show your child the scenario. Any child 4 years old and above can benefit from this activity.

4. Kindness rock painting

Kindness rock painting is a fun activity wherein children paint rocks in different colors and write positive affirmations of kindness on them. This serves as reminders to children to be kind and giving. Children 4 years and above will enjoy this activity.

5. Stories and poems of kindness

One of the easiest ways to teach a child kindness is through a picture book. Books like The Kindness Quilt or The Big Umbrella are great choices to be read aloud so kids can learn more about the concept of kindness. You can supplement your reading activity with dolls or toys. This is great for kids aged 3 and above.

6. Donating

Teaching kids that giving is a part of kindness from an early age can set the foundation for many kind acts they do in the future. Donating can teach your child that it is always good to spread kindness to other children who need it. Have your child collect clothes, toys, and personal belongings that they would like other children to have. This activity can be done by children 4 years old and older.

7. The kindness tree

Make your own kindness tree to teach your child about how doing acts of kindness allows them and others to flourish. Gather twigs and place them in a glass jar. Then, you and your child can cut out green paper in the shape of leaves. Your child can write down their acts of kindness on the leaves before taping, gluing, or tying them onto the twigs. This activity is excellent for children aged 4 years and up.

8. The giving jar

The giving jar is an activity that will encourage kindness, even when there is no special occasion. Instruct your child to fill up the jar with things that they’d like other family members to have to make their day better. These objects can range from sweets to trinkets. This activity teaches your child that it is kind to give away things that they would This activity is suitable for children aged 6 years and up.

9. Handmade gifts

Handmade gifts are beautiful acts of kindness because they show that you’ve put time, effort, and thought into creating a present for someone. Whether it’s origami, arts and crafts, or other ways to make a gift, encourage your child to let their creativity fly to express their kindness. This is great for children 5 years and older.

10. Kindness cards

Prepare and print out flashcards with acts of kindness on them. Have your child pick one and set out to complete the act out for their peers, whether it’s at school, the playground, or other places. This can help you instill kindness in your child’s behavior, such as helping out a friend who’s fallen or sharing a snack with a classmate. This is ideal for children 6 years old and up.

11. Homework help

If you’re a parent with more than one child, then this is a great activity that will teach both your children kindness and allow them to bond. You can set up an hour dedicated for your children to do homework together with an emphasis on helping each other when they get stuck. This is a great opportunity for your older children to help their younger siblings. This works well for children who are 6 years of age or older.

12. Kindness song

Musically inclined kids can benefit from creating a song on kindness as it will not only teach them the concept but also empower them creatively. When asking them to create melodies and lyrics to the song, don’t forget to emphasize the simple acts of kindness you can both sing about and do every day. You can do this activity for children ages 6 and up.

13. Thankfulness statements

One of the characteristics that contribute to kindness is thankfulness. You can guide your child in this activity by having them write “I am thankful for” in the middle of a piece of paper. They can then proceed to write about all the things they are thankful for around that statement. You can also use something more structured, such as a gratitude exercises worksheet. This expression of gratitude will allow your child to be more satisfied with what they have and extend a kinder hand to others. This is best for children 4 years old and up.

14. Kindness calendar

Creating a kindness calendar can turn being kind into a habit and, eventually, part of who your children are. Fill up a calendar with unique initiatives together with your child to help motivate them to participate in kind acts, such as setting the table, cleaning up without being asked, and cheering someone up with a joke. This is great for children who are 5 years of age and older.

15. Kindness role play

Role playing with toys and dolls is an excellent way to help kids understand kindness more instinctively. You can act out certain situations that will help your kid think of ways they can be kind. Some examples you can present them with include a girl sitting by herself at the playground or a classmate with no lunch to eat. This activity works for kids aged 4 and up.

16. Appreciation box

Showing kindness to one’s family is essential to learning how to express it to other people. You can set an example by starting an appreciation box for the family. Here, you can encourage everybody to write down words of appreciation for any kindness-driven actions. This will allow your child to participate and appreciate someone for being kind while expressing their feelings on paper. Children 5 years and up can participate in this activity.

17. Volunteering

Similar to donating, volunteering will teach children about how to be kind to others. This is a more active way to get involved with helping others compare to donating. You can start by volunteering at the local animal shelter. Here, children will learn how to be kind and responsible for dogs, cats, and other animals that have no homes and need a gentle touch. Children who are 5 years of age and older can be ready to participate in this activity.

18. Kindness worksheets

Kindness worksheets are always fun for kids to accomplish. You can create your own with questions such as “What is kindness to you?” or “I show kindness by…” and “How can I be kinder to my friends?” Such worksheets will be helpful in letting kids think about kindness from a wider standpoint. You can also supplement the worksheets with character education posters, which teach kindness in different forms like being compassionate or trustworthy. Children 6 years old and up can enjoy these worksheets and posters.

How to Make Kindness Activities for Kids More Fun

Making kindness activities more fun is essential for children to absorb the lessons that are being taught. It is best to integrate these activities into everyday tasks and responsibilities, especially during play and leisure time. It also helps to break up lessons, offer choices, incorporate games, move around, and use hands-on activities.

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 may learn what it means to be kind and when it's appropriate to do so through these activities. Through various activities that pique their curiosity and encourage active thinking, you may also instruct your kids about the positive effects of kindness on our world, our society, and our family.

References:

  1. Post, S. Altuism, happiness, and health: it's good to be good. 2005.
  2. Marsh N, Gerhardt H, Strang S, et al. The Neuropeptide Oxytocin Induces a Social Altruism Bias. 25 November 2015.
  3. Baldwin C & Baldwin A. Children's Judgments of Kindness. 1970.
  4. Fryburg D. Kindness as a Stress Reduction–Health Promotion Intervention: A Review of the Psychobiology of Caring. 29 January 2021.