Building kind citizens may not be in our schools’ curriculum, but it is an important goal of both educators and parents. Studies show that kind people are not only happier, they are healthier.
Kindness is like a muscle. For some it may be naturally stronger, but every person can build that muscle with practice. And practicing kindness can be simple if we built it into our routine. Here are twelve ideas to get your routine started:
Be kind to each other each and every day. Say hello, good morning, and goodbye with a handshake, high five, or hug. This may mean reminding yourself to take a break from preparing so you can greet kids and their parents as they arrive to school. Take this a step further and ask them a question about their day and listen actively.
Demonstrate kindness in your words and actions. When speaking to and in front of children, use a kind tone. If you need to discuss a problem with a child, pull him or her aside to have a private conversation. Allow the the child acting out to hear and discuss how his or her behavior affects you and others. Never call people bad, a bully, or by other names.
Build community. Give children opportunities to get to know each other and learn to work together. One fun way to do this is to regularly provide opportunities to answer check-in questions or participating in icebreakers and/or cooperative games. Here are seven fun games:
- I Love My Neighbor…
- If You Really Knew Me
- Ants On a Log
- Hula Hoop Challenge
- Blindfold Building
- Alligator Swamp
Integrate kindness into routines. At the end of the day or before transitioning to a new activity, provide groups the opportunity to give appreciations. Appreciations are simple. Standing in a circle, allow anyone who wants to name a person, express their gratitude to that person, and share why. Or schedule time for gratitude journaling. Ask kids to draw and/or write about someone who was kind to them that day. To make the impact greater, allow kids to post their favorite entries on the wall for others to see.
How do you develop kindness in kids?
Looking for more ideas, check out this entry on the contagious power of kindness.