Studies have determined that showing kindness changes the brain and that acts of giving provides physical and emotional benefits. It is important for children to learn what it means to be kind.
Patty O’Grady, PhD is an expert in neuroscience, emotional learning and positive psychology more specifically in the educational environment. She states that “kindness changes the brain by the experience of kindness. Children and adolescents do not learn kindness by only thinking about it, talking about it or reading about it. Kindness is best learned by feeling.”
So how do you define a random act of kindness?
It is an act that benefits others or makes others feel happy. It can be as simple as a smile or sitting next to someone that is sitting alone.
Learning the value of kindness:
- Happy Children: kindness activates the part of the brain that makes us feel joy and happiness. When we feel joy resulting from kindness we want to replicate those feelings.
- Creates a sense of belonging: simple acts of kindness can help us feel more connected and help us feel like we belong. Knowing that you can reach out for help and someone will be there even if it is a stranger.
- Improves self esteem – It can help create feelings of self worth and helps us feel optimistic.
- Reduces Depression: Kindness has shown to increase the level of serotonin in the brain, which helps improve mood. Serotonin levels have been shown to increase in both the giver and receiver of kindness as well as the people who witness the act.
Kindness is Contagious
The first step to teaching your child about kindness is to model it in your day to day. Let them know how being kind makes you feel. Practicing random acts of kindness yourself can help make your child more aware of what kindness really is. Get them involved and point out how good it feels when they are kind and helpful. Let them see that even small acts can make a BIG difference.
Here are some ideas for easy random acts of kindness your child can be successful at.
- Write a thank you note
- Help make dinner
- Donate: a toy, food, socks,
- Clean up your room
- Say “hi” to someone new
- Write a note or draw a picture for your neighbor
- Bake something for a friend and deliver it
- Read a book to someone
- Bring a flower to your teacher
I have also created an easy Random Acts of Kindness activity to get you started. This free printable: “Snowflake of kindness creates a blizzard of happiness”
When you have printed the sheet you can cut out the random acts of kindness snowflakes. You can have your children choose one at random or choose a specific act of kindness everyday. Every time your child has completed an act of kindness they can hole punch the snowflake and ad it to a jar. They can complete the same act of kindness over and over again if they choose (practice makes perfect). They will watch the jar fill up with little snowflakes/confetti and they will see how much joy they have put into the world.
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