Aesop of fables fame, said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted,” and Princess Diana wisely urged each of us to “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” What better time than the mash-up of Valentine’s Day and Random Acts of Kindness Day to follow through!
For the past 25 years, February 17 has been celebrated as Random Acts of Kindness Day and now extends into a week of recognition that kicks off February 11. Both the week (with Valentine’s Day falling midway through) and the day are great opportunities to model and teach kindness to kids so they and everyone around them can reap the benefits.
In “7 Reasons Why Teaching Kids Kindness Is Essential,” posted to the Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) website, it poses two important questions: “Have you ever experienced or provided ‘random acts of kindness”? and “How did it make you feel?” It then continues on to say, “Experts have determined that showing kindness changes the brain, and that selfless acts of giving provide physical and emotional benefits needed for a well-rounded individual,” adding that “This is why it is essential for children to learn kindness early on.”
The Family Room blog, a Bright Horizons Community, supports that idea with “10 Ways to Teach Kindness to Preschoolers.” They include simple but important ways that parents can help kids with ideas such as “Do something nice for their teacher—paint them a picture, bring them a treat or coffee,” “let a sibling pick the movie they’re going to watch,” and “teach the ‘why’ behind saying please and thank you.”
Kindness reaches far beyond the moment of a specific act. The website for the Australia-based Ripple Kindness Project, outlines “The Benefits of Kindness and Social-Emotional Learning in the Classroom”; among them are happier children; increased self-esteem; less narcissism; better physical health; less stress, anxiety, and depression; and less bullying.
Practicing kindness boosts kids’ social emotional IQ—referenced in the above resource--and that’s no small bonus. A 2018 article by Lisa Kadane in Today’s Parent, titled “EQ v. IQ: Why Emotional Intelligence Will Take Your Kid Further in Life” summed it up well. The article suggests that “It’s been shown that children with high EQs earn better grades, stay in school longer and make healthier choices…,” adding that “teacher also report that high-EQ students are more co-operative and make better leaders in the classroom.”
Valentine’s Day, though not random, can be a great tie-in with Random Acts of Kindness Day. For example, “25 Sweet Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Your Kids,” by Diana Spalding writing for Motherly, include making heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast and telling your kids what you admire about them. After all, kindness begins at home, right?
Forget someone on the Valentine list? Help your child cut out and color this printable Valentine found at www.schoolzone.com. Also find a printable V-Day activity that helps little ones practice beginning letter sounds.
Remember, being kind makes kids—and adults—feel good!