Yes, World Kindness Day is actually a thing, and it is celebrated annually on the 13th November. It was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, which is an international coalition of NGOs and is observed in over 25 countries. Here in Canada, it is celebrated with The Kindness Concert.
As you and I know, kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which bridges the divides of race, religion and gender, so as you would expect, World Kindness Day’s key focus is to highlight good deeds in our wider communities, focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness which binds us humans together. How wonderful! Writing this post is making me all warm and fuzzy 🙂
So how do we become kinder? As published in Psychologies UK magazine in September 2014, Psychologist Piero Ferrucci explains that it helps to consider kindness as a number of component parts, namely:
- Empathy Trying to understand what’s going on in the mind of a friend when they are in need of support.
- Modesty Instead of boasting about our achievements or happiness, actively listening to our friends helps us feel happy just to be with them.
- Patience Rather than being impatient when the person in front of you at the checkout spends a couple of minutes chatting with the cashier, remind yourself how important these small human exchanges can be.
- Generosity Offering someone a gift, the benefit of your wisdom, or your time, helps you appreciate the pleasure of their company more than keeping these things to yourself.
- Respect Listening to someone else without judging; accepting their point of view as valid, even if you disagree.
- Loyalty Being trustworthy gives us the pleasing feeling of being true to ourselves, as well as to others.
- Gratitude Taking a moment to give thanks for our good health and good fortune, and recognising how much we value our loved ones, makes us aware of how much we actually have, and lessens any feelings of regret or frustration.
As parents, we are constantly nurturing this wonderful part of the human condition, in our little bundles of joy. We are always striving to ensure that they do not deviate from a path of good moral standing and that they are aspiring day-to-day to develop their own awareness, of showing love and kindness towards all those they come across. It is a natural desire for any parent, to want their offspring to be attributed to this great virtue.
But, how do we help our children understand what is it to demonstrate kindness? Schools around the world are now celebrating World Kindness Day, but while kindness might seem pretty straightforward to learn, it is a bit more complex than meets the eye. I am a firm believer that we don’t necessarily teach children kindness purely through example, or when we simply enable them to be receivers of kindness. Rather, we escalate their feelings of happiness, improve their well-being, reduce bullying, enrich their friendships, build peace and set them up for a full and purposeful life, by teaching them to be givers of kindness. The above list of component parts is a good place to start, there will be day-to-day opportunities for you to teach your children empathy, respect and those other aforementioned virtues that make up this amazing quality.
There are also plenty of activities and things you can do with your children to develop their awareness for showing kindness to others. In preparation for World Kindness Day, my girls and I have been busy this week, coming up with some ‘Kindness’ activities. Most of these are easily doable at home and are suitable for pre-school and toddler age groups, but can easily be adapted to suit other ages.
‘Family Kindness Chart’ – We created a checklist chart, that all members of our family can refer to and tick off when they have performed an act of kindness. Laminated, this checklist works well with the use of an erasable marker, to tick off all our kind deeds for the day, and wipes clean for use tomorrow. We have tried to have our checklist completed by the end of each day, so that we know we have all tried our best, to show kindness. Here is a printable of Our Family Kindness Chart for you to use.
‘Kindness Giveaway’ – When a child learns to give things that have belonged to them, away to others who are more needy than themselves, this teaches them the art of compassion. When speaking about ‘kind’ things that we could do for others in honour of World Kindness Day, we decided that giving some of our belongings, mainly toys and clothes was a great way of showing kindness to others. Off we go to the clothes bin and the Thrift store this coming weekend.
‘Learning to say Kind things about others’ game – This is a very easy way to encourage children to participate in thinking and speaking kindly of others. Sit in a circle, and roll a ball, or a ball of string from one person to another. At each roll, the child is encouraged to say the recipients name and something kind about them.
We also especially love this ’52 Acts of Kindness’ printable scrapbook from Moments a Day. It is such a great and encouraging resource for young families – Thank you Chelsea.
We hope you all enjoy and make the most of celebrating World Kindness Day with each other.
I leave you with my 4 year old’s explanation of what it means to show Kindness to others…Kindness feels happy. Kindness looks like rainbows. It is about being kind and loving, and you appreciate what your friends do for you. It doesn’t taste like anything, it is sharing, helping, hugging. ~ Mali