As parents, we all have secret dreams about the success our children will have in their future. our dreams for them are typically focused on the kind of success that shines a spotlight on their gifted achievements.
But there are many ways to lead a successful life that aren’t tied directly to notable achievements. Helping others and being empathetic to those in need, being kind to people, and volunteering are examples of how our children can find a different kind of success—and be a positive force of change in the world.
Raising Children Who Are Kind
While we often think that being kind helps the people we’re interacting with, research shows that being kind to others improves our overall mental health. In a study done by the National Institutes of Health(opens in a new tab), children who showed behaviors of being cooperative, empathetic, and kind early in life were more likely to stay in school, avoid drug or alcohol abuse, and have better mental health as adults.
Model kindness in your daily interactions at home. Smile more, listen to others talk about their day, take the dog out when it isn’t your turn. Showing kindness to your family leads to children who act kind toward others when they’re out in the world.
Kindness also encompasses manners. Teach them to say please and thank you before they start kindergarten. Encourage them to show gratitude and find ways to help others.
Social and Emotional Learning
It’s important that teachers in brick-and-mortar schools and parents of students in online school or homeschool build in social and emotional learning opportunities throughout the school day, which supports a deeper understanding of being kind. Focusing on cooperation, coping skills, responsibility, gratitude, self-control, and empathy helps students self-regulate their emotions so they don’t lash out with unkind behavior. It also supports healthy conflict resolution and encourages students to work together. Good social and emotional skills lead to students who are kind to each other and to those in the world around them.
An Act of Kindness Can Spark a Movement
Kind kids can change the world one act of kindness at a time. When Nicholas Lowinger was in middle school, he met a brother and sister who shared a pair of shoes, each coming to school every other day. Nicholas gave the boy a pair of shoes, and from that experience of helping someone in need, he started the Gotta Have a Sole Foundation(opens in a new tab) as part of a community service project. Through his outreach efforts, his foundation has donated over 100,000 new pairs of shoes to children living in homeless shelters.
If your child wants to do something kind but doesn’t know what to do or where to start, think about doing small random acts of kindness, which can have an impact on people. One random act of kindness can inspire another person to do the same, creating a ripple felt throughout the community.
Kindness Leads to Service
When parents and teachers instill kindness in students, it leads them to want to help others. One of the greatest things we can give is our time and resources to support those in need. If your student is showing interest in wanting to volunteer, it’s good to start at organizations that support causes they’re passionate about. Ask them what they would do to make the world a better place, then check online(opens in a new tab) for local organizations that allow student volunteers.
Online school students have unique opportunities to give back to their communities through volunteering due to the flexible school schedule. Read more about how one Connections Academy® family took their education on the road, exploring the world, meeting new people, and helping those they met along the way.
If you’re looking for fun ways to teach children gratitude, here(opens in a new tab) is a gratitude placemat craft for elementary school children. Writing thank-you notes is another way to help kids learn gratitude. Here’s how they can learn to write thoughtful thank-you notes.