In today’s world, it often seems as if only the fittest survive. Almost every day, we hear new stories of horrendous bullying, both online and in real life – in some cases driving children to suicide. Racism, homophobia, bigotry and intolerance are rife, and examples of people being kind to each other are in short supply.
It’s no surprise, then, that many kids find it all too easy to be mean to each other.
But the picture isn’t as bleak as it might seem. Lots of children are genuinely warm and caring and find it easy to empathize with others – perhaps teaching us adults a lesson.
If your child wants to make a difference, why not suggest they try some of these random acts of kindness? There’s no guarantee of getting anything in return but acts of altruism are known to improve mental health, and you and your child will both get a buzz from doing something nice for someone else.
Kindness at school
1. Hold the door open for your teacher or headteacher.
2. Let someone else go in front in the queue to go out to play.
3. Help a friend who’s stuck on their classwork.
4. Clear up a mess you didn’t make.
5. Offer to hand out the fruit and milk at snack time.
6. Hang up someone’s coat if it’s fallen off its peg.
7. Sharpen all the pencils in the class at breaktime.
8. Sort out the reading books if they’re all jumbled up.
9. Use your pocket money to buy a nice new pen for your teacher.
10. Clear out your old books and donate them to the school library.
11. Offer to tidy up the equipment at the end of PE.
12. Write your teacher a note or a poem about why you like them.
13. Tell someone a joke to cheer them up if they’re feeling sad.
14. Bring in sweets or cakes to give out on your birthday (check that this is okay first: some schools won’t let you in case any of your schoolmates have allergies).
15. Bring in a pot plant for your classroom windowsill, or a bunch of daffodils for your teacher.
16. Sort out your old school uniform that doesn’t fit any more and donate it to the school.
17. Ask your teacher if you can hold a bake sale, craft sale or second-hand book sale to raise money for charity.
Kindness in the playground
18. Offer to play with someone who’s all on their own.
19. Run to fetch a teacher if a friend falls and hurts themselves.
20. Organize a game for children from one of the younger classes.
21. Pick up litter from the school playing field and put it in the bin.
22. Share the games equipment you’re playing with, even if you had it first.
23. Ask your teacher if you can make bird feeders or an insect home for the playground.
24. Lend someone your hat or gloves if you’re warm and they’re feeling cold.
25. Stand by the door after playtime and remind your friends to wipe their muddy feet.
Kindness at home, and with friends and family
26. Make your brother or sister’s bed for them.
27. Clear the table after dinner without being asked.
28. Bake cakes or cookies to take on a playdate.
29. Send a letter to your grandma or granddad, or a relative you don’t see very often. Write it by hand, not on the computer!
30. Read your little brother or sister a bedtime story.
31. Feed your pet or clean out their cage without having to be told.
32. If you’ve done something naughty, write a note to your mum or dad to say sorry.
33. Make sure you help tidy the toys away when you’ve been playing at a friend’s house.
34. Use beads, loom bands or other craft materials to make a bracelet for a friend.
35. Put out food for the birds in your garden, especially in winter when the ground is frozen.
36. Empty the rubbish out of your lunchbox after school and rinse / wash it.
37. Pour the rest of your family a drink at mealtimes.
38. Listen to your brother or sister read their school reading books.
39. Draw your mum or dad a picture, just because you love them.
40. Give a packet of sunflower seeds to a friend, so they can watch them grow.
41. Put your shoes and coat in the right place after school instead of dumping them on the floor.
42. Offer to wash your mum or dad’s car and put all the rubbish in the bin.
43. Write proper handwritten thank-you cards for all your birthday or Christmas presents.
44. Try to pay five people a compliment every day – for example, you could tell them they make you laugh, or they’re a good friend, or that they’re brilliant at drawing.
Kindness in the community and for charity
45. Make a poster for your local park to remind people to pick up their dog poo.
46. Write a letter to a child who’s ill in hospital.
47. Offer to walk your neighbor’s dog for them (only if your mum and dad say it’s okay and will go with you).
48. Paint rocks with pretty pictures or positive sayings and hide them in your neighborhood for other children to find.
49. Leave your pound coin in the locker at the swimming pool for the next person who uses it.
50. Try to walk to school more often so you’re not polluting the environment with car fumes.
51. If you’ve got long hair, think about having it cut and donating it to a charity that makes wigs for sick children.
52. Sort out your old toys and donate them to a charity shop or a local playgroup.
53. Pick up at least three pieces of litter every time you go to the park.
54. Collect copper coins and leave a jar of ‘wishing pennies’ next to a fountain or wishing well.
55. Make sandwiches or cakes to take to your local soup kitchen or homeless night shelter.
56. Sign up for a sponsored run, skip or silence and raise money for your favorite charity.
57. Donate your old comics, magazines and coloring books to your GP’s surgery for children who are waiting to see the doctor.
58. At Christmas time, put decorations on a tree in your local park to make people smile (remember to take them down again once Christmas is over).
59. When you go shopping with your mum or dad, choose an extra item of food to donate to a food bank.
60. Visit your local old people’s home to talk to the residents. You could even read them a book, sing them a song or play your instrument for them.
61. Smile and say hello to people you pass on the way to and from school.