It seems like every day the world and our country grow even more polarized. It makes sense, of course. No matter what side you sit on, a scroll through Facebook can leave you seething. That’s probably not going to change any time soon for grown ups. However, you can make sure that the world is kinder and more peaceful for your kids. By starting early in your efforts to teach your kids empathy and kindness, you’ll instill a need for understanding and a push for acceptance that often seems lacking from adults these days. More than anything, we want our kids to be happy, right? These kindness activities for kids will go a long way to not only making others feel better, but will also help them feel better about themselves.
We all know that giving someone a high-five or simply smiling at a stranger can make their day better. But, how do you encourage your kids to do kind things? Further down, you’ll find a list of ways your kids can spread kindness. All of these activities/games can be customized using that list, but that’s only a jumping off point.
1. Kindness BINGO
Find a printable blanket BINGO board online or make your own. Fill each box with a different kindness activity. As your kids do them, you can mark off the activities together. Once they score a straight line or complete the whole board, make sure you find a simple reward.
2. Kindness Paper Chain
If turning kindness into a game seems a little too pushy to you, but you still want a way to encourage your kids to spread kindness, a paper chain might help. You’ve probably made paper chains before to count down days until holidays or events. Or maybe you just made them to decorate for a certain event? This time around, use each link of the chain to write down a kindness activity. Each day, you guys can remove a link in the chain and work together to complete the task and spread kindness.
3. Kindness Cootie Catcher
You remember cootie catchers! Back in the day, you probably used them to guess who had crushes on you or who you were going to marry. This time, put ideas for kindness activities under each flap.
4. Collect Compliments
This one works best in a classroom, but can be done in any family. Start by having each kid write their name at the top of a notebook paper. Next, have everyone pass their paper to the person next to them. That person will write a compliment about the name at the time of the paper. Continue passing papers every minute or so until every person has left a compliment on each person’s paper. Before passing back everyone’s papers, make sure you take them back and read through them. If you have the time and resources, you might even want to type them out or find some other way to present them nicely. We did this in my fifth grade class and I carried my list of compliments around with me until I lost my wallet in 10th grade.
5. Encouragement Stones
Ever painted rocks before? Your kids probably loved it. Do that again. This time, however, add encouraging notes and affirmations in Sharpie onto the dried rocks. Next, find places to leave the encouragement stones so people will find them while playing in the park or out walking around.
6. Secret Compliment Art
Assign each person in your family, group or classroom the name of someone else. Let them use a white crayon on white paper to write a compliment and decorate the paper (write the assigned person’s name on the back in pencil or pen). Next, hand the compliment back to the assigned person. Everyone can use watercolor paints to color over their white paper and reveal their compliment.
7. Encouraging Sidewalk Chalk
Do you get a ton of Amazon shipments? Or maybe your neighborhood is full of speed walkers? Next time you send your kids out to the driveway or sidewalk with their chalk, ask them to write note of encouragement to anyone who might see their art.
8. Blizzard of Affirmations/Kindness
Making paper snowflakes. On each one, work with your kids to come up with kind sentiments or encouraging notes to write on them. Consider hanging them around the house, on the front door or all over the kitchen cabinets, so everyone takes part in the kindness blizzard.
Do you give out or donate mittens or gloves during the holidays? Next time around, let your kids write sweet notes and compliments to hide inside the finger tips. Whether the mittens are going to a specific relative or the familiar houseless person you see on the way to Target, your compliments (whether they’re personalized or generic) will bring a smile to the recipient’s face.
10. Start A Gratitude Journal (And Share Your Gratitude)
You’ve taught your kids to say “thank you” when you give them lunch or they get a special new present. But, have you taught them how to be genuinely thankful? Help your child start a gratitude list or journal where they keep track of things they’re grateful for each day. Some days, it might be as simple as, “I have a home” or “My parents love me.” As they grow into it, it might start including things like, “My sister shared her ice cream with me” or “Kelsey sat with me at lunch after we had a fight.” As they age, they might want their lists to be private.
While they’re young and you’re helping them with it, look for times when they show gratitude for something which also warrants a “thank you.” Encourage them to write “thank you” notes to the people they include in their journal. It’s a simple way to bring kindness so someone else’s life and teach your kids to be thankful for their own life, even when it doesn’t feel so awesome some days.
Have the kids write a thank you note or a card to all their teachers at the end of the year and hand it to them on the last day of classes. This will teach kids about retrospective thought, thinking back about everything they learned thanks to their teachers over the past years. It will also instill a love and appreciation for thank you notes, not just after receiving birthday or Christmas gifts.
11. Create “Go bags”
You might be leery of handing over your hard earned cash to the houseless people in your neighborhood, but what about needed supplies? This can be as simple as a grocery bag with some bottled water, gatorade, cereal bars or goldfish and basic hygiene products. For female-identifying homeless neighbors, you could use an old purse for the same items but include some pads and tampons — you know how expensive those are! Kids can contribute by helping you sort and fill a few bags. You could even consider letting them draw a picture or write an encouraging note to put inside.
12. Charity Fund
If your kids are bugging you for an increase in their allowance, use it as a way to also teach them to give back. Assign new chores or just give them the increase, but agree that a certain amount of that increase has to be saved to do something nice. If you bump up their allowance by $2 a month with the stipulation that they save $1 each month, that’s $12 in December. They could use that money to buy a toy for a toy drive or a hot coffee and snack for the people asking for change in front of Starbucks.
13. Help Each Other Around The Home
This will require some instigating from you. But, try to find ways to get your kids to help out their siblings or anyone else who lives with you. If you divvy up chores, get to know the chores each of your kids hate. When one of your kids is having an especially hard evening or week, encourage their sibling(s) to do their least favorite chores. If your youngest is struggling with a project, see if your oldest can offer insight from when they did the same thing. In many cases, the best way to encourage this behavior is to model it… and point it out, because kids are oblivious. Think: “Dad’s had a bad day, so I’m going to take the trash out right now so we don’t have to remind him later.” Or “Kaleb had a ton of homework yesterday, so I’m going to let him have a half-hour of my TV time to watch one of his shows.”
Kindness Activities To Try With Kids
This is just a jumping off point. Be sure to add your own to this list.
1. Give a compliment
2. Give a hug
3. Give a high five
4. Share your toy
5. Draw a kind picture of someone
6. Sit with a new kid
7. Make someone’s favorite snack
8. Bring extra to share
9. Smile to someone who looks like they’re having a bad day
10. Say hi to someone
11. Hold the door
12. Do an extra chore
13. Do someone else’s chore
14. Point out someone else’s good/hard work
15. Invite someone to sit with you
16. Make someone a card
17. Say thank you