It’s Random Acts of Kindness Day, and it really got us thinking here at YouHue about just how powerful kindness is.
If we can teach young people in our lives how to be kind, we can make the world a much better place.
We wholeheartedly agree with the British Psychological Society when they said “Kindness shouldn’t just be something we only think about once a year. Being kind to others, and being kind to ourselves, can be good for our psychological wellbeing all year round.”
Being kind feels good to do — it feels nice to hold a door open for a stranger. It also feels good to receive — it’s lovely when a friend buys you a cup of coffee.
So how can we cultivate more kindness in our lives?
Firstly, define what it means to be kind. What does it actually mean? There’s no point telling our young people to ‘be kind’, when we can’t explain it in a clear way, with a lot of examples.
You could do an exercise with them called ‘Kindness Means…’ on some post-it notes. Ask children what they think kindness means, and write it on some notes. You can even use the sticky notes to put somewhere as a reminder, like on their bedroom door or a fridge.
Did you know that being kind also has health benefits? In addition to boosting oxytocin and dopamine, being kind can also increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood.
Kindness is about looking after yourself too. Learning to practice Kindness when we didn’t get all our answers right at the Spelling Bee test or when we came last in the relay race, really means so much to our sense of self and esteem.
Research shows that people who have greater levels of self-compassion tend to be more motivated. They still recognize where they’ve gone wrong, but rather than getting caught up in blame and judgement, they can learn from the experience and adapt and change course for the next time.
Help the child understand that in some instances, it’s okay to be sad. Mistakes don’t mean anything about their worth.
Lead by example
The best way to teach children kindness is by being kind yourself! As well as being a positive role model for kindness, you could ask children what to do in certain scenarios — if you see someone struggling, for example.
Becoming a role model for kind behavior means the child is noticing how you support others. By using compassionate language, showing caring and acts of service to others, the young people will be unconsciously absorbing all of your good deeds.
Research has shown that practicing kindness has a really beneficial effect on stress levels, helping the person to mitigate any negative emotion.
Form a praise vocabulary
Why not form a praise vocabulary! Words to praise are good reminders to have around the house or classroom in order to remind us to say positive things for a job well done, or special effort made.
Phrases like ‘you got this!’ and ‘we can do it!’ will sink into the child’s vocabulary, and become part of their inner voice, as Kurtz Psychology says.
This simple act of kindness can go a long way towards young people being able to regulate their emotions and self-reflect with calmness.
Find the humor
Kindness is not taking life too seriously! Being kind is being able to laugh at life’s challenges. The next time you do something accidentally, like smash a plate, you can laugh with the child, and make a joke of wanting to be in a Greek restaurant, where plate smashing and saying ‘Opa!’ is a tradition.
Children are naturally wired to be kind. In ‘Why We Cooperate’ the author remarks “Drop something in front of a two-year-old, and she’s likely to pick it up for you”.
However, this is not a learned behavior, psychologist Michael Tomasello argues. Through observations of young children in experiments, Tomasello shows that children are naturally — and uniquely — cooperative.
Choose a kind act
Why not make an act of kindness a game? You could choose one day of the week to do Kind Acts for people. Like every Friday, you and your little ones take the time to write a ‘Kindness letter’ and leave it for someone at random, like on a park bench.
Studies show that kindness is a win-win situation for both parties. A 2018 study focused on employees at a Spanish company. Workers were asked to either a) perform acts of kindness for colleagues, or b) count the number of kind acts they received from coworkers. The results showed that those who received acts of kindness became happier, demonstrating the value of benevolence for the receiver.
However, those who delivered the acts of kindness benefited even more than the receivers. That’s because not only did they show a similar trend towards increased happiness, but they also had a boost in life and job satisfaction, as well as a decrease in depression.
Enjoy the ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ you create today, and you never know — someone out there may just be doing an act of kindness for you!
To learn more about kindness, emotional regulation and how you can help young people self-reflect on their wellbeing, visit YouHue.com