4 Ways Kids Can Practice Kindness
By Nuanprang Snitbhan
You may have heard the grown-ups in your life say, “Be kind to others!” But what does that mean? Some people think being kind is the same thing as being nice. It’s not! Kindness requires four big things: 1) compassion, 2) empathy, 3) courage, and 4) responsibility. And kindness takes time to blossom, just like a tree takes time to grow from a small seed. So what is kindness?
Compassion Having compassion means caring for how someone is feeling or what they are going through—even when that someone is you. Having self-compassion means caring for yourself when you are going through something difficult. Many scientists and psychologists believe that if you have self-compassion, you are likely to grow up being happier and more successful in life. After all, when you are unhappy, worried, or scared, it’s easier to give up and harder to be friendly to other people. Take care of yourself, and then we can take care of each other!
Empathy When you have self-compassion and are understanding toward yourself, you are able to be understanding toward your family, friends, and other people around you. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When you pay attention and try your best to learn about other people, you might be able to imagine how they feel and what they need.
Courage Courage is one of the biggest ingredients in kindness. You have to be brave to act on your compassion and empathy for others. You need determination to speak up when someone is being mean or uncaring. You need courage to make mistakes, apologize when you’re wrong, and try again.
Responsibility Everyone is responsible for making this earth a happier and kinder place. You probably have some responsibilities right now—maybe you’re responsible for setting the table or making your bed in the morning. But your best friend might have different responsibilities—maybe they are responsible for walking the dog! Kindness, however, is a responsibility we all share. A kind person cares for people they already know and love and extends that kindness to strangers, animals, and the planet we live on. We all have kindness in us. But it is like a muscle that needs to be used in order to grow strong. The Kindness Cards for Kids deck shares different ways you can practice being kind to yourself, to your family, to your community, and to the earth any and every day.
Excerpted from Kindness Cards for Kids: 52 Ways to Make Every Day a Little Better by Nuanprang Snitbhan (Bala Kids, 2020), shambhala.com/bala-kids.
Nuanprang Snitbhan was born in Bangkok, Thailand. She is a clinical psychologist specializing in working with children, adolescents, and their families.