Here’s Why Kindness Counts When Raising Children
February 17, 2022, is National Random Acts of Kindness Day, and in honor of that observance, I wanted to tell you why kindness counts when raising children.
The very definition of a random act of kindness is when you do something unexpected, thoughtful, or helpful without expecting anything in return. However, you actually DO receive something in return!
You see, kindness is a key ingredient when enhancing positivity and helping children feel good about themselves. Teaching them how to show kindness to others produces something called a “helper’s high.” This high reduces stress and improves overall wellbeing. Studies have even shown that it can even increase immunity, all because love and empathy are experienced!
When you express kindness, your brain releases a “feel good” hormone called oxytocin, which lowers blood pressure and protects your heart. This oxytocin has other benefits too, including slowing signs of aging, producing feel-good emotions that make children happy and acting as a natural antidote to stress, and anxiety.
How do I teach my child kindness?
Simply stated; they learn kindness from us! Modeling kindness for our children should be a priority. Our children need to see us showing kindness to everyone we encounter. While it’s easy to show kindness to those we spend a lot of time with, it’s also important to point out other people who also deserve our kindness: restaurant staff, the school custodian, grocery store employees, and even the homeless.
Another important part of teaching kindness is by helping your child work through their big feelings and behaviors. Children can be unkind sometimes, that’s why kindness counts while raising children. Use these experiences as an opportunity to help them process their emotions and learn from their mistakes. Even when children act unkind, we must continue showing kindness to them. They learn how to deal with difficult behaviors and emotions by watching how we handle them.
Ideas for celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Day and Every Day:
- Write an uplifting note to a classmate or family member
- Say “Hi” to someone new
- Play with someone who looks like they could use a friend at recess
- Give a compliment
- Cheer up a friend
- Smile at someone new
- Hold the door open for someone
Mor resources are listed below:
- In this amazing Ted Talk, A Hot Dog for Kindness, fourth-grader Paz Parel-Sewell describes a day
- In the book, Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler by Margery Cuyler, a teacher assigns her class good deeds at school and home.
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today? By Carol McCloud and David Messing encourages positive behavior using the concept of an invisible bucket.
- Alicia Ortego’s book Kindness is My Superpower helps children improve self-esteem and inspires them to believe in themselves.
- Friendshape by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld discusses friendship and invites conversations on the subject through shapes and feelings.
- Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry and Tom Lichtenheld is another picture book about the importance of friends sticking together.
My hope in providing you with this information is that you be a model for your child and extend “Random Acts of Kindness Day” to your everyday life. In doing so, you will create a better world for your child and the people who your kindness touched. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
Blog by Jennifer Hatcher, LCSW, a school-based mental health therapist in Phillippi Shores Elementary School in Sarasota, FL