kindness is CONTAGIOUS
Being kind to someone will often set off a positive chain reaction of kindness. This ties into the whole idea of paying it forward. There are countless videos online of random acts of kindness that inspire people daily. Even just watching someone be kind evokes a strong emotion in the observer and encourages them to show kindness and help others. As parents, we set the first examples for our children and are their primary source for what it means to be kind.
Teaching kids to be kind is both a wonderful pastime, and an important one. There’s nothing that beats the feeling of pride we have when a toddler offers a toy to someone else willingly, or our older child gives their tooth fairy money to someone in need.
Teaching your children to be kind has another benefit—it spreads. If you do something kind for another person, they are more likely to pass it on. This isn’t just wishful thinking either. A 2016 study looked at how generous other people were when they saw others being generous, and found that kindness does indeed spread.
It can be very encouraging for children to find out they have the power to change the entire world, through the power of kindness alone. Teaching kids to spread kindness is easy and fun, here are a few ways to get you started:
help them give
It’s one thing to hear about how being kind can make a difference, it’s another to be the one in control. If your child shows concern about something they see on TV, such as homelessness or hunger, support them in their desire to help. This could be gathering toys, clothes, or food to help them, or letting them help cook a meal for a person in need.
Most kids have a natural desire to help, and all they need to get started on the road to kindness is to be allowed to do so on their own terms.
let them see the circle of kindness
When you help a needy person, it can be hard to see how that circle of kindness continues—but you can see it within your own family. When your kids do a kind act for you, and you decide to do one back—point out how their kindness spread. By drawing attention to what is happening.
Your children can probably make the connection between helping you bake cookies and getting a tasty cookie at the end, but they may not make the connection between helping you wash the dishes which frees up enough time to read a bedtime story later. By drawing attention to these other ways that kindness spreads, you can help them see how their kindness is always growing.
In the study that looked at how contagious kindness is, they also looked at how contagious less desirable traits are. Just as kindness is easily spread, selfish behaviors are also quick to spread. It’s helpful to be conscious of your own behaviors, and make sure that what you are spreading to your children are the behaviors you want to model.
This can be tricky, like when you bake those cookies and tell your kid ‘just one’ before bed, but then eat the rest of the cookies later—your kids are probably going to figure out where they’ve gone.
It’s important to show your kid kindness, and to be the change you want to see in them. Kindness is a ‘germ’ we want kids to have, so show them just how fun spreading kindness can be.
books that encourage children to spread kindness
I Walk with Vanessa: A Story About a Simple Act of Kindness by Kerascoëet is a wonderful picture book that tells a story about the new girl at school, Vanessa, and how a classmate shows her kindness when she is seen crying after a confrontation with a bully. Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller beautifully explores the meaning of kindness and how it can spread through examples of various small acts of kindness. What Does It Mean To Be Kind? By Rana DiOrio is a picture book that teaches children that kindness often takes courage, and gives suggestions of how to be kind.
Please enjoy this free Tot Tails coloring page to help share this message with your child.