We know that genuine gratitude is scientifically proven to be good for people (source). Further, there are few better ways to foster gratitude and create a sense of meaning than serving others (source). What about acts of kindness for kids, though?
Of course children can do good works for others. Just like with all things, the more they engage in altruistic behavior from a young age, the more natural it can feel for them to continue as they grow older.
With the purpose of fostering caring communities that start with our youngest members, here are 25 random acts of kindness for kids. (Good news — adults can do them, too!)
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Where do we get started with acts of kindness for kids?
You can use an advent-style calendar or multi-compartment storage box and pick a random act of kindness each day. Even a regular old shoebox or a cookie jar can work well. Every day, let your child pull a pre-written note from the container and see what good you get to do together.
25 Acts of Kindness for Kids
- Leave a “just because” or holiday card for someone you don’t know. “Happy Tuesday” or “Because we care” are
perfectly valid “holidays” these days.
- Rake someone else’s yard together.
- Use chalk to write a positive message or draw something festive on someone’s sidewalk.
- Leave a penny next to a fountain for someone else’s wish.
- Call someone your child has been missing, or someone who’s been missing your child.
- Support an animal shelter with supplies or the gift of your time.
- If you’re able, give your child money to give to a cashier, to contribute to the purchase for the next person in line. (Or better, several people back to keep it anonymous). If you’re not going to a store, online gift cards make great alternatives.
- Leave a chocolate on someone’s pillow in your home.
- Leave a note of joy and good cheer on someone’s car.
- Find someone whose newspaper or package has been delivered to their sidewalk. Move it up to their doorstep.
- Find some trash outside and throw it away.
- Go somewhere and smile or wave at everyone you see. Count the smiles you get back!
- Find or purchase a toy to donate.
- Give a warm meal to someone who needs it.
- If you have a safe way to do it, ask a stranger how his or her day is going. Listen sincerely to the answer.
- Research charities together and let your child decide how he wants to support one.
- Host a meal, snack, or tea time for a friend or neighbor. If you’re unable to spend time together in person, arrange for a virtual visit.
- Send a letter to an individual or organization to suggest a positive change for society.
- Pay someone a sincere compliment.
- Pick up sticks, leaves, or rocks from the sidewalk and move them somewhere safer.
- Write a thank-you note to your mail carrier and leave it in your mailbox.
- Give away 10 hugs today. If you’re staying home, deliver those hugs to those with whom you live.
- Choose non-perishable food items to donate.
- Tell someone you don’t normally tell that you love or really like them.
- Sweep or shovel a neighbor’s driveway.
The older your child, the bigger part he or she can play in random acts of kindness for kids. For little kids, especially, you might model raking the leaves more than expect your children to do the heavy lifting. (I bet they’ll have lots of fun jumping in piles and bagging them up, though!)
Modeling gratitude without making the work obligatory helps keep the spirit of it all authentic. And of course, opportunities to volunteer increase with your child’s age. The focus here is togetherness; acts of kindness for kids are truly ways to have quality time together. Take time to be present with your children.
Acts of kindness for kids have no upper age limit. Let your children see you joyfully engaging alongside them.
Brainstorm random acts of kindness for kids, with your kids.
Once you’ve gone through the list and made acts of kindness for kids part of your routine,
challenge your children to continue with their own ideas.
Let them continue to observe you treating others well without expecting anything in return. After all, that’s one of the gifts that gratitude fosters, isn’t it?
Bonus: a craft to keep acts of kindness for kids top of mind in your home.
A gratitude garland is an inexpensive and fun craft that helps kids be mindful of others every day. It’s also a lovely option for those of us whose crafts aren’t, say, Pinterest-worthy. (I’m raising my hand here. Heck, I can barely pack a lunchbox without a map.)
- Construction paper
- Safety scissors
- Kid-safe cookie cutters or something else to trace
- Fun pens (these were my very favorite kind as a kid) or crayons
- Thick twine or pretty yarn
- Colorful paperclips
You and your kids can trace and cut out whatever shape (or shapes) you plan to use. Each day, write one thing for which you’re thankful on one of the shapes. Cut a small hole in your shape. Feed your twine or yarn through it, and make sure you cut a long enough length of yarn to last awhile. Use a paperclip to secure your shape to the yarn. Hang the yarn somewhere visible in your home, and each day, recount your blessings together as you add a new one. We find that hanging it over the door frame in the kitchen works well.
One of the great things about acts of kindness for kids is that the more they see kindness in action throughout the year, the easier it is for them to perpetuate as they grow up.
It takes practice sometimes. For all of us. But kindness itself can be one of the best gifts of all, and it never needs to be wrapped with a bow.
If you liked “Acts of Kindness for Kids,” you might also like: How to Help Your Sick Kid Feel Better Fast
Sarah R. Moore is an internationally published writer and the founder of Dandelion Seeds Positive Parenting. You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. She’s currently worldschooling her family. Her glass is half full.