Inside: If you want to raise kind kids, these are the most impactful acts of kindness every parent has to teach their kids to make the world a kinder place.
The other day I was leaving the gym and a man pulled out his earbuds and stopped his workout to tell me something.
I had dropped my favorite sweatshirt out of my bag and he pointed it out to me on the ground behind me.
I was so grateful for his simple kindness.
And then as I left the gym, I saw a mom and toddler heading towards the door.
So I waited a few extra seconds and held the door for them.
It’s these common, little, everyday acts of kindness that I love seeing and participating in because if you add them all up, day in and day out, there’s kindness everywhere.
Simple, normal, everyday acts of kindness.
Because it’s in these moments, the moments where a sweatshirt is saved and a mom doesn’t have to battle a door and a toddler at the same time where you can see just how impactful these acts of kindness are.
And if they’re the most impactful, these are the acts of kindness that are essential to teach our children if we want to raise kinder kids.
Why we focus on this kind of kindness:
We are intentionally raising our kids to be kind.
We model kindness, we talk about kindness and read about kindness.
We praise and encourage kindness.
In fact, kindness is so essential in our family, we made it one of our only two family rules.
But a much more powerful thing we teach our kids is simple, normal, everyday acts of kindness.
Why are these so much more impactful than bigger, showy acts of kindness?
Because these simple things will become daily activities.
Normal things to do.
And so this is the secret sauce to raising kind kids.
Because it ensures kind behaviors are engrained in their normal everyday behaviors.
These sneaky acts of kindness take only moments to model and only seconds to teach.
And they’re simple to encourage and to praise.
What are Simple, Normal, Everyday Acts of Kindness?
These acts of kindness have everything to do with social etiquette.
They focus on manners and common courtesy more so than any other acts of kindness.
But courtesy is kindness.
Being mindful of others is kindness.
So this kind of kindness is not flashy and exciting like random acts of kindness are.
Although random acts of kindness are amazing.
This kind of kindness doesn’t require you to plan ahead as volunteering does.
Although volunteering is amazing.
And these everyday acts of kindness don’t cost money.
Although donating money or goods is amazing.
They’re the most impactful acts of kindness because they inspire others to act with kindness.
They’re impactful because they’re easy to do so they’re easy to do often.
And these simple acts of kindness are the most impactful acts of kindness because they can be done anywhere at any time so they can be done everywhere, all the time.
Some SNEAKY Kindness Ideas to Teach Our Kids:
- Look behind you before letting go of the door to see if someone is behind you
- Stay to the right so others can pass
- Clean up after yourself in a public space
- Keep your feet off public spaces so others can sit
- Speak quietly on public transport and in libraries and houses of worship
- Back up from an elevator door so others can get off before you try to get on
- Greet others, including cashiers, community helpers, and even siblings
- Ask before you change the channel or station or song
- Say excuse me when you pass someone a little too closely
- Tuck your legs in as someone walks by you
- Let someone know they dropped something valuable
- Offer to let someone borrow something you know they need
How to Teach This Kind of Kindness:
There are several ways to teach our kids to be considerate of others and mindful of others.
1. Model it.
When you’re out in public, it’s the perfect time to model these kind behaviors.
When you go up or down a staircase, remind them to stay to the right.
At the mall, remind them to back away from the elevator.
At the grocery store, encourage them to say “excuse me” if they pass someone who is stopped looking for an item.
2. Point out Kindness
When we see others acting with this kind of kindness and courtesy, I thank them. I call it out. I tell them I appreciate it.
When we see others acting without care or concern I point it out to my kids quietly.
We talk about what we could do differently.
And we talk about how maybe the offender didn’t realize they were being unthoughtful because they weren’t paying attention to the people around them.
3. Praise it
When you see your kids doing something even remotely thoughtful and courteous towards others, praise them. Give them all kinds of props to encourage this behavior more.
You can give verbal praise or use this Caught Being Kind Hole Chart.
4. Go on a Scavenger Hunt
My kids love challenges, so we made this to inspire them to act with more SNEAKY Kindness.
Print out this SNEAKY Kindness Scavenger Hunt (download it below) and see if your kids can complete everything on the list throughout the course of a month.
If you’re a competitive family, give each kid their own list, or work cooperatively and fill it out together as a family.
Each time they complete something off the list, they can check it off, x it off or draw a small picture in the box.
The prize is making the world around them a little friendlier, kinder, and more considerate.
But you could also grab them a kindness book as a congrats prize off this list of must-read kindness books.
Or you can reward them with a trip to get inexpensive toys they can use with these Random Acts of Kindness Cards.
Because when we teach our kids these sneaky acts of kindness, these simple acts will become so ingrained in them when they’re young, that when our kids are tweens, and teens and young adults, it will be a normal part of their behavior.
When they’re spending more time with peers and less time with us and our reminders, they’ll still do these things.
Because it’s part of their nature.
Part of their personality.
Part of who they are.
They’ll give up their seat to a pregnant mama or an elder.
They’ll thank the cashier as they buy movie tickets.
And they’ll tell the lady at the gym she dropped her favorite sweatshirt.