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Spreading Kindness

Children have countless opportunities to act for the reward of adult adulation and praise. But there are not many chances for them to act simply for the satisfaction of knowing that they brought joy to someone else. Doing random acts of kindness gives kids the chance to see that they can have a positive impact on other people. Making other people smile makes kids feel great inside too—what a way to get kids hooked on kindness!

In honor of World Kindness Day on November 13th, we're sharing one way to make kindness a regular part of your family’s routine. This activity is featured in our November calendar. If you do not yet have your free copy, get it here

The Guide

Get inspiration from a story: 

Gather and listen to a story called Long Hair and the Waterfall that originates from China, told on one of our favorite podcasts, Circle Round.

Chat about the story: 

What did Long Hair do to care for other people? How did she give back to her community? How did she make other people feel? 

Make a Kindness Jar! 

Get an ordinary jar and hold it out. Ask kids, "Do you know what this is?" Take answers, then let them know it is no ordinary jar...it is a “kindness jar!” Kindness jars are jars in which we can hold ideas for acts of kindness we could do for other people.

Brainstorm and fill the jar: 

Talk with kids to brainstorm things you could do to fill other people's buckets. You can think about each person in your family or close friends and what would make them happy (great boost for cognitive empathy). Use that to spark ideas. Write ideas down on slips of paper and fill your jar with them. 

Want ideas? Try some of these kindness activities: 

  • Turn rocks or acorns into smiles you can spread around your neighborhood.
  • Grab some gloves and a trash bag and pick up some litter early in the morning, when there are few people in your local park.
  • Tell someone a joke either in person, over the phone or by sending a quick video.
  • Fill the bird feeder or make your own, then sit and watch the birds (or the squirrels, in our case) benefit from your efforts.
  • Spend the afternoon making a community nature display, then leave it so other park goers can see, delight in and even add to it.
  • Make a painting or drawing that would make someone smile and share it with a friend or post it in the window or front yard for people to see as they pass by.
  • Pick a flower bouquet and leave it at someone’s front door.
  • Tell 3 different people about what you like about them or what they are really good at.
  • Stand on the corner of the street and wave and smile to the cars and people who go by.
  • Make a card to thank the people who care for your local park.

Spread kindness: 

Pick from the jar whenever you have time for a random act of kindness guaranteed to spread smiles around your family and community. 

Reflect: 

Each time you perform a "kindness," talk about what you did, how it made you feel and how you think it made the recipient feel. This kind of reflection help kids develop long lasting empathy and get hooked on kindness, too! 

Why is this activity great for kids?

Kindness given and received feels joyful, has lasting effects on kids’ overall wellness, and helps kids develop confidence in their ability to have a positive impact on the people around them. Thinking about what would make another person smile and then taking action to make them smile is a great way to boost kids' empathy. Empathy is a rather elegant set of skills. It can help to break it down into three sub-types: 

  • Emotional (Social) Empathy—The sensing of the emotions that another person is feeling.
  • Cognitive Empathy—Sometimes called “perspective taking,” this is the ability to think about how another person is thinking.
  • Compassionate Empathy—This is how we move past sensing another person’s feelings to taking action in response—precisely what we are doing in this activity! 
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