At our After School clubs, we are currently exploring our virtues, ‘the things inside of us that make us better people’.
The bread of butter of this is kindness. How often do we as parents find ourselves trying to persuade our children to be more kind? To share, to not hit, to use kind words. I know a phrase that often comes out of my mouth is: “That wasn’t very kind, was it?” But in this way kindness always becomes something we feel our child doesn’t have enough of, and then we are blown off our seats when they finally do something kind!
Virtues are ‘the things inside of us that make us better people.’
What do kids think?
Kindness is something we can practice doing, our kids already have the ability to be kind and as parents, we can bring it out of them through praise and encouragement. How can we do this?
The Greater Good Science Centre’s Greater Good in Action page suggests four ways:
Rewards are a lovely way to encourage and praise our children, but kindness can be its own reward! Studies show that performing 5 acts of kindness in a single day can significantly improve feelings of happiness. Kindness comes naturally to children, but when they receive rewards for doing it they can begin to do it for the reward, instead of simply ‘wanting to’.
our kids already have the ability to be kind and as parents we can bring it out of them through praise and encouragement.
When we praise a child’s character, “You’re a helpful person” they being to see kindness as part of who they are, rather that praising their action, “That was a helpful thing to do”
When our child makes a bad decision and does something that was not kind is a time we do want to focus on their behaviour and not their character. We don’t want our children to feel shame “I’m a bad person”, but instead the natural feeling of guilt, “I did a bad thing.” A useful phrase to use, which still contains a positive comment is: “You’re a kind person and I know you can do better” and help them to consider ways they could make it better.
If our children see us acting kindly day to day, they will follow by example.
RAOK Random Acts of Kindness
Here are two ways we encourage the kids at our After School Clubs to act kindly with ‘Random Acts of Kindness’
- Citywise Kindness Calendar: This calendar gives an opportunity for families to schedule an act of kindness throughout the week and month. Studies also show that 5 acts of kindness in a single day can have a strong impact on feelings of happiness in comparison to 5 acts over a week.
- Or try this fun craft, follow the instructions to make an origami fortune teller or “Cootie Catcher” but write kindness actions on the final flaps that can be done that day or that moment for a family member or friend.