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Teaching children kindness

It is easy to look up kindness in the dictionary. But it goes far beyond just words. It can mean different things to different people. Kindness, big or small, has the power to make us happier, less stressed and improve our confidence. Which is why it is so important to teach young people to be kind to one another as well as themselves.

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The science of kindness

Girl smiling at camera

The science of kindness

Most of us value kindness above all else. It’s what friendships are made of, right? But learning how to show kindness to others, and even ourselves, doesn’t come easily to everybody. That is why practising kindness as a child can really pay off later in life.

Kindness has both physical and mental health benefits. In fact, being kind releases endorphins, which are natural hormones in the body that reduce pain and boost pleasure. So, next time you get that warm fuzzy feeling when someone pays you a compliment, you know why.

Character not appearance

Helen is one of our well-being practitioners. She explains that we need to change what we focus on when complimenting children and young people.

‘We often comment on people's looks, when we should be pointing out when children do something that's helpful.’

‘When they put on a nice outfit and you say they look lovely, it would actually be better to comment on what a lovely person they are to reinforce kind behaviour.’

It's changing that emphasis. Trying to focus less on image and more on their true character.

Girl eating ice cream in front of a fountain

Improving well-being

Children's well-being has been on the decline for a decade. We're working hard to tackle this toxic trend.

It starts with being kind to yourself

If a friend was upset, chances are you would want to help them out. You might give them a hug, meet up for a chat or buy them some chocolates. But sometimes we forget that the same applies to ourselves.

Teaching young people self-care won’t just benefit them but also those around them. They should know that there is nothing wrong with putting yourself first. There is no need to feel guilty or embarrassed.

Being kind to yourself continued

Tom, one of our well-being councillors, describes how many of the young people he sees don’t take the time to look after themselves. They don’t even realise it’s an option.

'Quite a few young people I see don’t know you can actually treat yourself with kindness too.'

'I encourage them to think about what is best for them in a situation. Think about how they can treat themselves with care. That’s a theme across most of the young people I work with. Just introducing the idea that they can and should be kind to themselves.’

Boy smiling at camera

A little goes a long way

Every child is different. They have different needs, experiences and values. But one thing that remains clear is that kindness can benefit them all. No act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.

Kindness is free and everyone, everywhere has the power to show it. By encouraging kindness we are promoting a more inclusive and positive society for the children and young people in our lives.

A few kind words can change someone’s day.