4 Kindness Activities for Your Kids
Over the past few weeks, I have had the pleasure of teaching at Ecole Claire Fontaine. On Mondays, I go in for an hour, and I get to teach some mindfulness techniques. This is something I’ve had the good fortune to do in many places over the past year and a half. What makes this opportunity so unique is… these kids are between the ages of 3-6. In the past, i have typically worked with young people at least twice that age.
What a learning experience this has been for me. Talk about being present! These kids don’t know any other way to be. They are teaching me so much. To start some lessons about emotions, I usually ask… “Who has been sad before? Who has been so sad before that when they cry, they can’t catch their breath?” And when I first heard them answer, “I haven’t. Im happy and I have fun all the time.” ~ it was one of the best things I’ve heard in this work so far. I had forgotten about the age of innocence. I had forgotten about the times when it was all fun and games and imagination and play.
Then I ask… “Who knows what kindness is? Who’s ever heard the word gratitude?” (Another charming response was: “Is it like attitude?”) And then I realized, my job is to start at this early budding point. I’ve always considered this work to be preventative. If we can teach our youth breathing and meditation techniques and mindful tools to help deal with their emotions, we can possibly prevent some troublesome routes they may otherwise take. But this… this is getting the opportunity to teach them what the words actually mean and how to adopt this as a lifestyle from the very beginning.
So… we started with kindness. I send a heartfelt thanks to Mindful Schools for giving me the idea of a month of kindness and supplying me with some fun activities. Here’s what we’ve been up to.
FIRST… We read the book, What Does It Mean To Be Kind by Rana DiOrio. This was a great way to explain what kindness means, and it gives specific examples of ways to be kind to one another. This really got them going. They started shouting out all the things they’ve done that were kind. Heartmelt moment. Then they started doing things for each other… like, hugging, sharing, laughing, and listening to each other. They all WANTED to be kind.
SECOND, I told them that for the next two weeks they were to become kindness detectives. And they were to look around and be very aware of what was going on around them and in their school. Any time they witnessed someone being kind, they were to draw what they saw on a leaf (I pre-cut some leaves out of colored construction paper). And then they all drew what they had witnessed just moments before, since they had all started being really kind to each other. It was adorable.
When class was about to wrap up, they all wanted to help me clean up so they could be kind. They helped each other put their shoes on,and they were sharing their belongings. It was truly magical to watch, they couldn’t wait to do more kind things for each other.
The following week, when I went back, we discussed some other acts of kindness we had witnessed and drew more leaves. Then we were on to the next activity…
THIRD, we made kindness flowers. Here, I had pre-drawn some flowers. In the middle they said, “I AM KIND.” And on the petals they were to draw ways in which they personally had been kind. Again, total cuteness. One girl said, “When I cuddle with my brother”… another said, “I smiled really big at my Dad today.” Another said that she picked up trash from the grass on her walk in to school. So brilliant and so kind, these little people Get It. And then they drew on their flowers. All about that kindness life.
LASTLY, the final portion of our acts of kindness was to make kindness affirmations. We talked about how it felt to watch others be kind. It made us happy. And how it felt when we remembered ways that we were kind… It also made us happy. So then we wanted to thank ourselves and appreciate more of the good things we do. Because when we do good things, the result is feeling good. A veritable win-win.
So we all stood up, took a big giant breath in… held it for a second, and then released slowly. We went around the room, and one by one, we said something we liked about ourselves, and everyone repeated it. A couple examples were…
I am a good friend
I am helpful
I am smart
I am a good listener
I am good at sports
Kindness is a practice, and what a great age to start practicing it. I can’t express enough how much they wanted to go out of their way to do something kind so they could draw it. Putting the concepts into actual practice reinforces the practices. Clearly verbalizing how it feels to see acts of kindness and to be kind fortifies the process of internalization. It makes us happy. They learn that any time sadness or upset arises, doing something kind for someone, or even for yourself can literally transform a negative mind state into a positive one. They are learning how to actually “turn that frown upside down.” :)
Hopefully this gives some insight on ways to teach the little people in your life about kindness. Please feel free to leave a comment, and let me know if it worked for you or if you have other activities you like to use. Spread the knowledge, spread the love… SPREAD THE KINDNESS. As we say here at Worthy Beyond Purpose, it takes a mindful village.