How to Build a Generation of Kindness
The Today Show recently posted a video showing incredible acts of kindness by kids. It was part of their #sharekindness campaign that was truly inspirational and uplifting. Here are some of their wonderful stories.
- Hunter carried his brother, Braden, who has cerebral palsy, 111 miles for a fundraising walk to raise awareness for cerebral palsy.
- Cambell Remess wanted to help sick kids. However, since he did not have the money to buy toys, he taught himself how to sew. In just 3 years, Cambell has made over 800 bears, sharing them with sick kids all over the world.
- A group of kids in New York wanted to help a group of homeless children who live in Michigan. To help the Michigan children feel special and loved, so the New York kids made superhero capes for them.
- Garret Lowry, 10 years old, spends his spare time knitting caps for babies in a hospital in Colorado.
- Ella Scott was at a restaurant with her father and noticed a homeless man sitting outside. She decided to give her dinner plate to this man.
What do all these children have in common? They all show genuine compassion, empathy, and kindness for others. Children inherently are born with this sense of goodness. A study in the academic journal Infancy revealed that children are motivated to help others as young as 18 months. As adults, we need to nurture this goodness and to teach children that they have the power to make a positive impact in the world. Our goal is the need to Build Generation Kindness.
Kindness is Good for Kids:
Building Generation Kindness is not just good for society, but it also has some significant benefits for individuals. Below is a list of evidence-based research that shows the benefits of kindness on the individual and society.
Kindness benefits your well-being:
A study by Yale and UCLA researchers found that kind gestures can help reduce our stress and help our overall mental health. According to Emily Ansell, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine "People overall did one or two acts of kindness per day, but what was most important was when they did more than one or two per day, we saw a benefit to their well-being."
Kindness is contagious:
A study found in Biological Psychology found that the natural high people feel when doing kind acts make them want to behave more altruistically towards others. “It’s kind of cool to see that what’s happening in your body is an impetus to prosociality and inspires people to give and be kind,” says Sarina Saturn, one of the authors of the study. “I think we’ve known that anecdotally; but now it’s great to see what’s actually happening in the body and the brain.”
Kindness increases happiness in kids:
A study published in Psychology today by researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Riverside, showed that when kids performed kindness acts or observed pleasant places, their feelings of happiness and satisfaction increased.
Kindness and Service Learning Improves Academic Performance:
Service Learning is "a teaching and learning strategy that integrates meaningful community service with instruction and reflection to enrich the learning experience, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities." An analysis of 62 studies involving almost 12,000 students indicated that, compared to controls, students participating in Service Learning programs demonstrated significant gains in five outcome areas: attitudes toward self, attitudes toward school and learning, civic engagement, social skills, and academic performance.
How to Build a Generation of Kindness
So how do we Build a Generation of Kindness? Below are tips on how we can help our children (whether you are their parent, teacher, relative, or friend) to be more active participants in society and continue to Build Generation Kindness.
Be a Role Model
Especially at a young age, children are watching and mimicking the adults around them. Our smallest actions can make an incredible impact on these kids. It could be something as simple as holding the door for someone or saying thank-you. Whatever it is, make sure your children see that kind acts are part of your daily ritual.
Be Purposeful and Deliberate
Make acts of kindness and giving purposeful and deliberate. Sure, there are several times when you help someone on a whim. But, be sure you have charitable projects that are planned and intentional and even on a regular basis. For example, volunteer at a homeless shelter once a month or spend Saturdays volunteering at the senior center. If charitable giving becomes part of your routine, the children in your lives see the importance of it and how it makes you who you are. And this ties back to our first point of being a role model. Your influence on children is so great at this age that they will want to follow your lead.
Be Hands-On with Charitable Acts
In our experience with teaching kids about kindness and giving, we needed to do more than just collecting money for charity. We had to find a way to put into terms that they understood. My children understand how to count money, but I don't believe they really understand the value of money - how hard you have to work to earn a dollar.
However, through my passion for crafting and helping others, I found a tool that helped them understand the value of giving. Through crafting, we can show children FIRST-HAND their personal ability to help others. As children knit a hat for preemies or make cards for servicemen, they are using their hands, their time and their energy to make something for someone else.
TEDX TALK: BUILDING GENERATION KINDNESS
I recently did a TEDx talk with my dear friend, who is a Montessori teacher, about this particular topic of teaching children about kindness, compassion, and empathy through crafting. Our call to action was that we have an incredible opportunity to shift our culture and to invest in the potential generosity of our children.
We now have a tool that can help spread this message. The Giving Artfully Kids Membership Club provides crafting-based service learning projects for teachers, parents, administrators, after school programs, and camps. Our project-based curriculum teaches children about kindness, compassion, and empathy. Click on the button below to learn more about the Membership and how it can be a great addition to your school and family.
Join us today as we continue this journey of Building Generation Kindness. And as each child makes an individual change, a collective change occurs within society. We know we can create a kinder, more compassionate and empathetic society, one child at a time.