5 fun activities that encourage kids to be kind
This Saturday, November 13th is World Kindness Day – one of my favourite days of the year! This is a fantastic opportunity to talk about kindness with kids. It’s also the perfect time to engage in some fun family activities that encourage kids to be kind themselves. I’ve written about kindness here on the blog before, and you can find tips on raising kind kids here, as well as a list of our favourite books about kindness here.
But the best way to encourage kids to be kind, and to raise kind kids, is by BEING kind. Which is why this year, I’ve created a brand new kindness resource you can use with your kids. The Mindful Little Kindness cards will get the whole family practicing kindness on a daily basis.
Mindful Little Kindness Cards
The Mindful Little Kindness cards are a set of 150 cards that encourage kids to be kind. Each card includes a simple act of kindness kids can complete either on their own or with an adult. The cards include a range of activities that will build your child’s emotional intelligence and encourage them to:
- Build positive relationships
- Give generously to others
- Share and take turns
- Help out around the house
- Practice gratitude
- Think about the feelings of others
- Care for the environment
The cards are designed to help kids develop empathy and be more aware of how their actions can impact others. They will encourage conversations about inclusivity, courage, respect, responsibility and compassion. They are a great opportunity for reflection, discussion, and of course, action! Here are some tips for using your cards to ensure your kids have a positive experience of using them.
Tips for using your Kindness Cards for Kids:
1. Get the whole family involved
Kids learn best by watching us. So if you want your kids to do kind things for others, YOU need to do kind things for others. That’s why these kindness cards for kids are designed for the whole family to use. In fact, some of the activities simply can’t be done by children alone – and this was an intentional choice! So get involved and help your child with their acts of kindness. Not only will children learn more by watching what you do, it will also be a positive bonding experience between you and your child.
2. Don’t force it
Sometimes kids might not want to use their kindness cards or get involved in the activities (especially older children!). That’s ok. It doesn’t mean your child is unkind, or that they don’t care for others. There may be a range of reasons why your child doesn’t want to participate. Just like us, kids have good and bad days. It can be tempting in these moments to force our kids to join in, in an attempt to help them see the value in the activity. But force only creates resistance. And we don’t want to turn a fun family activity about kindness and generosity into a punishment or a chore for kids.
If your child is reluctant to participate, simply let them be, and complete the activity with other family members who are keen. Your child may just see all the fun you are having together and how good it feels to do kind things for others, and decide to join in of their own accord. And if they don’t, you’ve still done some amazingly kind things for others – so there’s no harm done!
3. Make it fun!
Acts of kindness should never feel like a chore. And we already know that kids learn best through play! So if we really want to be impactful when we teach kids about kindness, it needs to be fun! So be mindful of your language when talking to kids about kindness – we don’t want to guilt or shame them into doing nice things for others. We want kids to have a positive experience of using their kindness cards and completing acts of kindness, so that they’ll want to keep doing it. Here are some fun ways to use your kindness cards for kids that will have your kids asking to use them again and again!
5 fun ways to use your Kindness Cards for Kids
1. Kindness Potluck
For this activity, simply place all your kindness cards into a bowl, bucket or hat. Each member of the family chooses a card at random (adjusting any activities for younger family members as needed). Then decide as a family how long each person will have to complete their activity.
Once your act of kindness is done, let everyone know how it went! Each family member reports back and shares which activity they completed, who they were kind to, how it felt to be kind and how the recipient responded. This is a great way to open up a conversation about why kindness is so important!
2. Intentional Acts of Kindness
To complete this activity, each family member chooses someone specific they’d like to complete a kind act for. Then they choose an activity they think would be meaningful for that person. This is a great way to build empathy skills as your child has to think about the needs, interests and values of the person they’ve chosen. Encourage your child to share why they chose the person they did, and why they believe the act of kindness they’ve selected is a good fit for their person. To help them along, you might like to ask them questions like:
- How can you make this person’s life better?
- How can you make this person smile?
- What does this person enjoy doing?
- What is something this person might need help with?
Once the act of kindness has been completed, help your child reflect on how their act of kindness was received. Did the person appreciate the act of kindness? How do they know? What did the other person do or say in response? This helps children understand the value and impact of their kind actions on others.
3. Family Kindness Challenge
This activity will get the whole family working together towards a kindness goal. Together, have your family choose a series of kind acts they would like to complete. Then decide how long you’ll have to complete them eg 1 week. Next, place all of the kindness cards somewhere visible, like on your fridge, or in a bowl on your table. You could even write a list of all the acts you’re planning to do or have the kids help you create a chart. They can then place a sticker or a check mark next to each act as it gets completed. Everyone then has to work together to complete all of the acts of kindness before the deadline!
As each act of kindness is completed, cross it off your list, mark your chart or remove the kindness card. Once you reach your goal, go and do something fun together to celebrate the great job you did spreading kindness around your community!
4. Secret Acts of Kindness
This activity requires you to sort through your kindness cards and choose activities that can be done for and by the members of your immediate family. Some examples might include:
- Clean up a mess you didn’t make – just because
- Make a card for someone you love
- Help your brother or sister make their bed
- Give someone a hug
Next, write down the names of everyone in your family on a slip of paper. Put all the names into one bowl/bucket/hat and all the acts of kindness into another. Each person chooses one name and an agreed upon number of kindness cards. Each member of your family then spends the next week completing acts of kindness for their chosen person – without them knowing! As you go about your week completing kind acts for each other, each person tries to guess who is doing kind deeds for them.
The beauty of this activity is that the kindness vibes spread quickly throughout the family, as everyone tries to complete their acts of kindness unnoticed. You may find that everyone is acting just a little bit kinder to each other as they try to be discreet and keep their acts of kindness hidden!
5. Kindness Advent Calendar
What better time is there to practice kindness to others than at Christmas?! Replace the lollies and plastic trinkets with meaningful activities this holiday season and create a kindness advent calendar! Simply choose an act of kindness to complete each day during December and have fun bringing joy to others during the festive season.
To complete your kindness advent calendar you can:
- Use the set of 24 Christmas kindness cards included in your pack
- Mix and match the Christmas activities with your regular kindness cards
- Use the blank cards to create your own special acts of Christmas kindness that are meaningful to your family.
However you choose to use your kindness cards, know that every time you complete an act of kindness you bring hope and positivity to someone’s life. As Aesop said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
Sarah is a psychologist, mama of 4 and the creator of Mindful Little Minds. She has over 10 years of experience working with children, adolescents and families experiencing mental health problems and has a special interest in anxiety disorders in children. In her spare time she enjoys hugging her kids, drinking coffee, and telling anyone who’ll listen how tired she is.