Teaching kindness to children is an important lesson to share no matter the age. My friend Joy Morgan Dey and her daughter Anna Skarie recently wrote and published a new book, One Gorilla, which they sent to us to enjoy. The children’s book focuses on the idea of paying kindness forward. Joy and Anna share their suggestions here for five ways to teach kids kindness. They include some wonderful examples of children’s books that share the lesson of kindness.
My daughter and I sat down to read One Gorilla today and absolutely loved the watercolor illustrations by artist Nikki Johnson.
Nikki truly makes these animals come to life. One of our favorites is the lemur. Will these naughty jungle animals learn the lesson of kindness and the simple act of paying it forward?
5 Ways to Teach Kids Kindness
1. Volunteer Together!
There are so many opportunities to lend a hand in any community. Kids can help you volunteer at a food shelf or soup kitchen, at neighborhood cleanup projects, or simply by helping an elderly neighbor with yard work or by reading to them or just visiting from time to time. Get your child to look around for an opportunity and then help them carry out their idea.
There are also a great many online organizations where your church or your family can help in a big way, such as Feed My Starving Children. Again, there are many to choose from. The important point is choosing a volunteer opportunity that you can do together with your child, so that they see that this is important to you, too.
2. Have Your Kiddo Donate
Children can be a big help in collecting, organizing, boxing and delivering donations. They like knowing that toys, books, or clothing that they have outgrown will find a new home.
They can also dedicate a piggy bank to a charity that you help them choose. Adding spare change to their special bank is an ongoing act of kindness, culminating in actually handing over what they have saved.
3. Talk about what “pay it forward” means.
Kids might have heard this term, but not know what it means. Once it is spelled out to them, though, they’ll quickly understand the idea that one good deed begets another, that they can make a difference in the world they live in, make it a happier place. If your child is learning to multiply, they might like the Acts of Kindness Worksheet that shows how just two acts of kindness on day one can lead to over a billion acts of kindness at work in the world in one short month!
4. Read Together About Being Kind
There are many, many, many good children’s books that teach kindness, from Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree…
…to the fable of the lion and the mouse.
For a good starting list go to www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/kindness.
And, of course we highly recommend One Gorilla, our book about making the jungle we all live in a better place one small good deed at a time.
5. Be Kind
Nothing new here, but very important. We can all use the occasional reminder to be just a little nicer, to go out of our way a bit here and there to reach out and help somebody. Typically, that small extra kindness costs us almost nothing, yet sometimes makes a very big difference to the receiver. Make a point of noticing acts of kindness in your family, your kids’ school, or the community at large. Get your kids to notice, and start to see how they can make a difference in their jungle.
Disclosure: I received a copy of One Gorilla for the purpose of review. All thoughts are my own. 5 Ways to Teach Kids Kindess written by Joy Morgan Dey and Anna Skarie.