Sometimes kindness comes naturally to kids, and other times they
need extra encouragement to think beyond their own feelings and
preferences. Whether it’s letting a classmate be first in line or
helping dad unload the dishwasher, words that affirm those kind acts can
go a long way in building kids’ powers of kindness.
As parents and caring adults, we can also open up extra opportunities for kids to practice kindness
and see how it makes the world better. With regular practice and
encouragement, kindness can become not only a habit but a superpower.
What to write or say to encourage KINDNESS:
- “Ellie looked sad when you told her she couldn’t play ponies with
you and Maddie. I think it would make Ellie so happy if you invited her
to play with you next time. What do you think?”
- “Thank you for helping your sister pick up her toys, even though you
didn’t get them out. You are showing her what it looks like to be
- “Our new neighbour mentioned that her son is eight just like you. How
about inviting him over to shoot baskets next time you’re out? I bet
that would make him feel more welcome in the neighbourhood.”
- “Mrs. Smith told me you ran to help her pick up when all her
groceries tumbled out of the bag. That makes me proud to hear about you
being so kind and helpful!”
- “What’s one thing you could do to be kind at recess today?”
- “Thank you for apologizing to your brother. Let’s think of some ways
you could show him more kindness next time something like this
- “Miss Salinas told me she got your thank-you note. She said it made her feel extra good about being a teacher.”
- “You handled your new classmates’ questions about your birthmark so
well. It must be hard answering the same questions every time you meet
new friends, but you were patient and kind with them.”
Little World Changers KINDNESS Bonus:
“How do you think Jack felt when you told him you loved his pirate ship picture?”
Ask an outward-focused question like this after any kindness encouragement to help kids see how powerful their kindness can be.
In-the-Moment Encouragement for KINDNESS:
- “That was so nice!”
- “How thoughtful of you!”
- “Your kindness made me smile.”
- “You made today better by being kind.”
- “I love your kind heart.”
- “Thank you for showing kindness.”
- “I heard about the nice thing you did today.”
- “You’re such a thoughtful helper.”
- “You made your friends feel great!”
- “We all forget to be kind sometimes. How can you be kinder next time?”
Non-verbal ways to encourage kids
Especially for younger kids, the encouraging things we do are just
as powerful as anything we could say or write. Here are a few ways to
encourage through actions:
- Give kids your attention. Set aside distractions. Be present. Listen. Play. Notice.
- Give a hug. Or a high five. Or hold their hand.
- Give permission. To run, play, colour, dig in the dirt or any other healthy outlet that helps them manage overwhelming feelings.
- Give them an example. Model the bravery, kindness, authenticity and teamwork you want them to develop.
- Give an incentive. A small treat or privilege to look forward to before and during a challenging experience.
- Give a reward. A small treat or privilege to reinforce the bravery, kindness, authenticity or teamwork they’ve shown.