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10 Ways to Teach Kindness to Children

What’s inside this article: 10 resources (books, activities, printables) that teach children all about kindness – including kindness to others, kindness to themselves and kindness to the planet.

Being kind is a quality we encourage in children all the time. But fostering kindness in kids takes more than just telling them to be kind.

Kids must understand what kindness really means and they need to know how to be kind.

Teaching kindness can happen in many forms:

  • Modeling
  • Direct teaching
  • Through personal experience
  • Mindfulness-based activities

I’m going to cover an assortment of activities that will help you teach your children about kindness.

The goal isn’t just to tell kids to be kind – but to foster the desire to choose kindness because being kind to others is intrinsically fulfilling.

10 ways to teach children how to be kind  - teaching what kindness is and how to be kind to yourself, nature, animals, and others. #Kindness #SocialEmotionalLearning

Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler

Kindness is Cooler, Mrs. Ruler is a great book for introducing kindness to kids. The book provides tons of concrete examples of kind things kids can do.

From GoodReads:

When Mrs. Ruler asks five of her kindergarteners to miss recess, she’s got a special plan up her sleeve. She’s about to teach a new golden rule: KINDNESS IS COOL

Soon the entire class is doing so many good deeds that their kindness bulletin board barely fits their classroom
From clearing the table after dinner to helping the elderly, one kindergarten class is proving that kids really can make a difference.

Count along with Mrs. Ruler’s class. Can all their good deeds really add up to 100 acts of kindness?

We watched a read-aloud video of this book on YouTube, so you can show this to your kids without heading out to buy it.

Kindness Narratives & Posters

I created these narratives and posters around kindness for my own kids as part of our home learning activities.

There are 8 pages in total included in the kindness pack. The topics covered include:

  • What kindness means
  • Things that are kind: 2 pages with 18 illustrated acts of kindness that children can do every day.
  • Choosing kindness – This is a 1 page narrative about how no matter how you have acted in the past, you can always make the choice to be kind.
  • Being kind to yourself – Explains that everyone deserved to feel happy, safe, and healthy and the importance of being kind to yourself. Includes 8 examples of being kind to yourself including making healthy choices, positive self-talk, doing activities you enjoy, etc.
  • Positive affirmations poster
  • “It’s cool to be kind” poster
  • Think before you speak poster
Kindness Narratives & Visuals Pack

Gratitude for Others

Recognizing the gratitude you have for other people naturally makes you want to show your appreciation for that person and promotes kindness.

Start by explaining to your child that many people help keep them safe and healthy. Give some examples:

  • Their family who cares for them
  • Teachers help them learn and keep them safe at school
  • Police officers keep the community safe for everybody
  • Doctors help them when they’re sick or hurt
  • Traffic officers make sure you get across the road safely

Many other people play a role in keeping us and our communities safe and healthy.

Ask you child if they can think of someone who helped them recently. It could be anyone mentioned above, a friend, a barber, dentist, waitress, etc.

Encourage them to notice more often when other people do things that help them. Of course, showing gratitude for others by saying thank you is one of the many ways to be kind.

Kindness Creates More Kindness

You can teach children that by being kind to others, we make them feel good. This often leads to them showing kindness towards others, too!

Show your child the book How Kind! by Mary Murphy (this is a kindergarten level book)

After you finish listening to the book, point out to your child, ” Did you notice what happens when you do something kind for someone else? That kindness leads to more kindness!”

Ask your child – who did the egg come back to at the end of the book?

After they answer, point out how sometimes our kindness comes back to US.

If you can, do some small random acts of kindness with your child:

  • Leave thank you notes for community helpers
  • Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-thru.
  • Bake cookies and bring them to a local nursing home
  • Compliment a stranger
  • Donate your old clothing to goodwill or a shelter
  • Offer to take someone’s cart back for them at the store.

Kindness toward Animals

So many living things depend on us and our kindness as well.

Read Brightly has a list – 8 Books that Teach Kids How to Treat Animals

My favorite one on the list is The Forgotten Rabbit.

This is a great book to help you open up a narrative with your children about how animals have feelings just like we do and how it’s important to be kind to all living things.

If you have a local wildlife rescue near by, here we have Hope for Wildlife , plan a visit for you and your child. It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about wildlife and also develop compassion and kindness for wild animals.

Some other ways to teach and show kindness to animals:

  • If you find an insect in your home, move it safely outside instead of killing it
  • Walk a dog at a local shelter
  • Donate to local animal shelters

Kindness Toward Nature

In addition to animals – we must also show kindness for other living things in nature – plants & trees. We need plants in order to survive.

We also need clean water and a healthy Earth.

Plant a Bean with your Child

Beans grow pretty quickly when cared for so it’s a great first plant for a child, but you can choose something else if you want.

This teaches children that nature can depend on our kindness to grow. You child will need to water their bean plant, and make sure it has sunlight – or else it won’t grow.

Our bean plant has been thriving and producing beans for several months and it’s still exciting for my son every time a new bean starts to grow.

Michael Recycle

Michael Recycle is a fun rhyming story about recycling that is great for showing kids the importance of recycling and how pollution harms the planet.

Kindness Towards Yourself

One of the most important things kids should know about kindness is that you must also be kind to yourself.

How many of us are too hard on ourselves when we make mistakes? Or, always end up putting ourselves and our own needs last?

Being kind to yourself is a critically important habit to teach your children.

  • The Kindness narratives have a section on being kind to yourself
  • Positive Affirmations for kids are another way to build self-confidence and positive self-talk which is necessary when being kind to yourself
  • Children need to know how to stand up for themselves and set their own boundaries with assertive communication.
  • Eating healthy and drinking enough water are both important parts of being kind to yourself. You need to take care of your body. Find some great tips here.
  • Teach kids about consent and bodily autonomy. It is their right to be safe and important to know that being kind to yourself might mean saying no to someone else. Saying no isn’t necessarily unkind. Here are 5 great children’s books about consent.

Random Acts of Kindness

One of the best ways for children to learn how great it feels to be kind, is by experiencing it through acts of kindness.

Consider taking on an acts of kindness challenge with your kids to show them how great it feels – or volunteering with them at a food bank or shelter.

The feeling you get from being kind is so rewarding that it makes you want to do it more often.

My 9 year old son stopped and gave his bagged lunch from school to a homeless man once as we were on our way to grab a hot lunch one day. The man was incredibly greatful and it made my son ecstatic.

He spoke all day about how great it felt to help someone else and how he wanted to do more things to help people out all the time.

We ended up making it a weekly ritual of giving out lunch every Friday and we are finding other ways to incorporate acts of kindness into our day-to-day life, too.

Check out this list of 125 Acts of Kindness for kids for more inspiration.

Other Kindness Resources

Big Life Journal has a Kindness and Community Printable kit that’s full of great things for children aged 5-11.

The kit includes:

  • 5-Day Kindness Challenge
  • 30 Ways to Make a Difference
  • “What’s the Emotion” game (to promote empathy)
  • Daily kindness trackers
  • Coloring pages and beautiful printable quotes
  • Top books and movies about kindness and friendship
  • and more!
Lessons About Kindness for Children - Books and activities about kindness including being kind to others. animals and nature and kindness toward yourself. #Kindness #SocialEmotionalLearning #SEL