Most people think February is all about Valentine’s Day, but did you know that February is also the month of kindness? Every February 17th, people come together to celebrate National Random Acts of Kindness Day — many families and schools choose to dedicate an entire week, or even month, to this holiday! Love and kindness go hand-in-hand, and celebrating both is a wonderful way to show appreciation for all the people in your life.
One of the most valuable lessons you can teach children is the importance of kindness. Research has shown us that there are countless ways children benefit from performing acts of kindness, as well as simply witnessing others being kind! Even more, your child will continue to benefit from doing and seeing acts of kindness long after the moment has passed — kindness sticks!
Not sure where to begin? Read on to discover the research-supported benefits of teaching children kindness, and several easy ways in which you can do so.
Benefits of teaching kindness to children
- Researchers at University of California found that performing acts of kindness for others — as well as simply recalling acts of kindness from memory — seems to increase personal well-being. Similar research from the University of Oxford found that performing acts of kindness for just seven days can increase your happiness — and the more kind acts you do, the happier you are!
- Being kind improves our ability to form meaningful and respectful relationships with others. In 19 classrooms across Vancouver, students who performed acts of kindness experienced a large increase in peer acceptance. Peer acceptance is very important to healthy development; it influences our academic and social success, as well as mental health.
- According to the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley, when students are involved in community service, they experience improved academic performance and increased feelings of school belonging. Simply put, being kind is great for education! This also helps students have positive relationships with classmates, and are therefore less likely to bully and be bullied.
- Research from the University of British Columbia found that performing acts of kindness improves our physical health, too. Participants with high blood pressure were split into two groups: one group was told to spend money on others, while the other group was told to spend money on themselves. Amazingly, participants who spent money on others had lower blood pressure by the end of the study!
- Want even more health benefits? Research has found that when we perform acts of kindness, our bodies release “happy hormones”; namely, oxytocin and serotonin. Science shows us that these hormones increase happiness, reduce stress, and even improve our self-esteem and optimism. Scientists also believe that being kind releases endorphins, producing the feeling known as the “helper’s high”.
Ways to teach kindness to children
- Get involved in volunteering and donating. Whether they take big or small actions, children benefit from giving back to their friends, family and community.
- Model kind behaviour and attitudes. The best way to teach children about kindness is for them to see it first-hand! This can also include integrating kindness activities at home, such as reading books about kindness.
- Encourage random acts of kindness. These are anything that will make someone’s day brighter! Follow this link for a fantastic list of kindness ideas.
Being kind to others FEELS GOOD, and has many benefits to children’s development.