Encourage Thoughtfullness and Caring
"Be kind whenever possible, it's always possible." - Dalai Lama
Being kind to others increases levels of happiness in others as well as our own feelings of happiness.1,2,3 Kindness is contagious! An act of kindness often results in more acts of kindness, making our schools and communities nicer places to live in.
There are multiple other benefits to promoting kindness. Acts of kindness, help:
- build a sense of cooperation, trust and safety in our schools and communities
- help us connect with others which, in turn, provide more support for ourselves
- help us see ourselves in a positive light – as being compassionate and caring
- help us be seen as more likable resulting in having more friends3,4
Kindness defined: According to Random Acts of Kindness (www.randomactsofkindness.org), kindness means "being friendly, generous or considerate to ourselves and others through words and actions."5
What counts as kindness?
Kindness is any act of genuine care or thoughtfulness including:
- Small, spontaneous acts that may take only a brief moment and that doesn't cost anything. Examples: smile, hold a door for someone, give a compliment to a friend, sit by someone who is alone at lunch, make someone new feel welcomed, include everyone in a recess game, make someone laugh, listen when others talk, let your classmate go first, be extra kind to the busdriver
- Larger, planned acts that may take more time. Examples: volunteer to be a 'Best Buddy'6 (a buddy for a peer with special needs), help clean up the classroom, donate unwanted clothes or toys to a group in need, write a thank you note to your teacher, invite someone for a play-date that seems to need a friend, clean your bedroom, read a story to a younger student, pass on a book that you enjoyed, bake something to bring into class and share
Other strategies and suggestions:
- Visit The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website (www.randomactsofkindness.org) and use the classroom instructional materials for teaching all children and school personnel how to be kind and to inspire cultures of kindness in our homes, schools and communities. Check out the classroom posters, bookmarks, calendars, videoclips, etc. Short, 15 minute Lesson Plans are free and downloadable.
- Promote friendship and respect for differences. Refer to the friendship promotion materials provided in the Comfortable Cafeteria and Refreshing Recess programs. Use these to help teach students about how to be a good friend and respect differences. Research has shown that students who perform acts of kindness are ore likely to be accepted by peers and have more friends.4 Promote friendships between children with and without disabilities – see Best Buddies (www.bestbuddies.org).
- Host a 'Kindness Day' routinely (once a week or month). Have students and adults come up with and write down at least 5 different acts of kindness that are not typically done. Have students reflect on the other person's reaction and how doing these acts made them feel.2 The act of remembering kind acts and writing them down actually increases feelings of happiness.1
1 Otake, K., Shimai, S., Tanaka-Matsumi, J., Otsui, K., & Fredrickson, B. (2006). Happy people become happier through kindness: A counting kindnesses intervention. Journal of Happiness Studies, 7, 361-375.
2 Actions for Happiness. (2015). Action 2: Do kind things for others. Retrieved from http://www.actionforhappiness.org/take-action/do-kind-things-for-others
3 Lyubomirsky, S. (2007). The HOW of happiness: A new approach to getting the life you want. London: Penguin Books LTD.
4 Layous, K., Nelson, S. K., Oberle, E., Schonert-Reichl, & Lyubomirsky, S. (2012). Kindness counts: Prompting prosocial behavior in preadolescents boosts peer acceptance and well-being. PLoS ONE 7(12): e51380. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0051380 Retrieved from http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0051380&representation=PDF
5 The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (2014). Educator guide: Kindness in the classroom. Monograph provides information and lesson plans for teachers. Login to website to obtain free and downloadable lesson plans. Retrieve monograph from http://materials.randomactsofkindness.org/educator-guide/RAK_Educator_Guide_112014.pdf