Teaching Kids About Kindness: Small Gestures That Make Others Smile

by Kimberly Blaker

With our busy lives, it’s easy to lose sight of the little things we can do to make the world a kinder, gentler place. As a result, kids miss out on golden opportunities to emulate kindness and experience its rewards. So, why not set a goal with your kids, and see how many acts of kindness your family can rack up in a single day or week? Here are some ideas to get your kids started.

Call grandparents or great-grandparents. This is a big one because often, grandparents are the ones to initiate calls. Pick up the phone and give them a call!

Visit an elderly neighbor. Many seniors are shut in because they can no longer drive. Often, even those who do drive don’t get the social interaction they need. Likely, someone in your neighborhood could use some company. A quick, socially-distanced chat with a neighbor just might make their day!

Offer a compliment. It doesn’t get any easier than this. But don’t offer praise you don’t mean. Otherwise, it’ll come off as disingenuous. Notice what someone is doing, think about the person’s personality, or something they’ve done. Then offer a compliment that you really mean.

Make a donation. It can be a small monetary donation to a good cause. Or you can donate items you no longer need to a homeless shelter, animal rescue, or holiday toy collection.

Help someone with their homework. Do you know a classmate who struggles in a particular subject? Offer to help them over video chat.

Take an extra lunch to school for someone who forgets. If you’re back to in-person learning, when you get to school, ask your teacher to help you find a student who needs a lunch. Keep in mind that a pre-packaged lunch may be a better idea than a homemade lunch.

Stand up for someone. Do you know a student who’s bullied or always left out? Look for an opportunity to tell those who are being judgmental to be a little kinder or that they’re being unfair.

Offer your support. Do you know someone going through a hard time, such as a serious illness or whose parents are going through a divorce? Lend them your shoulder, and offer to listen.

Make friends with someone who’s left out. Is there a classmate who’s always standing alone on the playground or who doesn’t participate with friends during online-learning breaks? Offer to join that person.

Bake cookies for your teacher or boss. Show your appreciation by baking their favorite goodies. During the pandemic, and with flu season, you may want to opt for buying cookies. Head to a local bakery and you’ll also be supporting a small business!

Buy a friend a candy bar. This is a simple way to show your friend you’re thinking of them.

Volunteer for a good cause. There are many opportunities right in your community. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen, pick up trash at a park, or help with a food drive.

Buy a homeless person a meal. If you see someone wandering who clearly looks homeless or is standing on a street corner with a sign, pick up a meal for them.

Take a neighbor dog for a walk—with permission, of course. Is there a dog in your neighborhood that never gets to go for walks? Be sure to ask about the dog’s energy level to make sure you’re able to handle the dog. Also, find out how far fiddo can walk and run to avoid overexertion.

Hold the door for someone. This is another super easy gesture that’s sure to be appreciated by someone who’s elderly, disabled, or really anyone.

Write an apology to someone you’ve hurt. We’ve all said and done things on occasion that has hurt someone’s feelings. So, take ownership of it, and write a heartfelt apology.

Help someone carry something. When you see someone struggling to carry something heavy, offer your assistance.

Post something nice on the social media page of someone who needs a friend. Leave them a positive comment!

Do a chore for your brother or sister—what a great way to get back in their good graces. And while you shouldn’t expect it, who knows, maybe they’ll return the favor.

Help someone with yard work. Offer to mow, rake, pull weeds, or shovel their snow.

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