Parents undertake the world’s most important job: raising children that will become kind, compassionate human beings. However, kindness does not always come naturally—especially to little ones who are just beginning to develop socially and emotionally. It’s up to us parents to nudge them in the right direction.
Understanding kindness Kindness can be a big conceptual bite for preschoolers. At Kiddie Academy®, we make it more digestible by progressing through lessons on thoughtfulness, generosity, politeness and helpfulness.
Breaking kindness down into these smaller components also presents more opportunities to provide children with tangible examples of what the virtue looks like in action. Try these four engaging activities at home to help your little ones develop a better grasp on kindness.
A wonderful way to teach your little ones about thoughtfulness is to help them perform random acts of kindness. A fun and family-friendly way to implement this lesson is by going on a “Kindness Rocks” adventure.
Have your littles ones search for smooth, palm-sized rocks to accessorize with simple drawings, notes or a combination of both that convey a positive message. Let children get creative by decorating the rocks with colorful paints, stickers or anything else that feels fun and personal to them. After decorations are complete, embark on a family outing to place the kindness rocks at nearby locations. Encourage your children to place one on a local park bench, a library shelf or even directly into the hands of a grocery store cashier.
Depending on their age, children will be more or less involved in the process. Regardless, it's a memorable bonding experience for the family that will leave a lasting sense of empathy and compassion in your little ones.
Sharing provides your children with a concrete action to practice as they build their understanding of generosity. One way to help them develop a sharing mindset is by encouraging them to give to someone in need.
As a family, help your little ones select personal toys that they no longer play with. After cleaning the toys, encourage your children to select a local charity to donate them to. If there is nowhere to donate in your community, sell the toys and give the profit to a charity of your child’s choosing.
It’s also important for children to understand that generosity doesn’t always involve physical items. Together, explore your little ones’ unique hobbies or talents—maybe they enjoy building puzzles, reading books or drawing pictures. The next time your child performs the activity, ask if you or another family member can watch and learn. This interaction helps children see that others find joy in their talents, and that sharing can be as simple as spending time together.
Role-modeling is a great way to teach children politeness, but you can strengthen the lesson through role-play. Try the following interactive scenarios:
Ask your children to gather a few of their favorite toys and assign a character to each. Create a scenario that displays a negative interaction between characters, in which they did not treat each other politely. For example, Audrey and Landon were in line at the drinking fountain. Landon asked Audrey to let him in front of her. Audrey explained how that would not be fair. Landon pushed past her anyway and got a drink.
After your children act out the scene, ask them to reflect on how their characters could have behaved differently. Next, ask your little ones to perform the role-play again with their alternate suggestions.
Engaging your little ones in simple and age-appropriate chores can be an effective way to teach helpfulness, but they might not always be eager to participate. Motivate your children to willingly assist by implementing a fun clean up song. Try this one:
“This Is the Way We Help Our Friends”
Tune: “Here We Go ’Round the Mulberry Bush”
This is the way we help our friends, help our friends, help our friends.
This is the way we help our friends to show them that we care.
I can help my friends clean up, friends clean up, friends clean up.
I can help my friends clean up to show them that I care.
I can give my friends a hug, friends a hug, friends a hug.
I can give my friends a hug to show them that I care.
Encourage your children to sing along during simple tasks like putting toys away after playtime. Make the routine a regular activity, as consistency helps little ones grasp that cleaning up is a helpful and expected part of playtime—and that it can be fun!
Through these lessons, children develop a nuanced understanding of kindness and its diverse expressions. This approach empowers little ones to become empathetic and compassionate
individuals who can face future interactions with a well-rounded understanding of what it means to be kind.