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“Be Kind.” It’s something we hear, maybe not as often as we hope, but a direct message nonetheless. The importance of kindness and respect is paramount.

Being kind to one another can start someone’s day off on the right note and even change their entire day around if it started off badly or stressful. We know that children as young as 3-6 can get stressed and grapple with negative emotions: emotions that can affect other family and friends in the same room.

So how can we improve a child’s behavior and attitude towards others, and themselves, creating a pleasant and positive environment?

Here are 3 Tips and Activities to foster kindness and increase a positive attitude amongst your children, particularly during stressful events:

1) Kindness Rocks: There are some great Rock Activity kits out there that started from the Kindness Rocks Project initiative, where people of all ages paint and write positive messages on rocks to gift to others or leave around their neighborhood for others to find. You don’t have to purchase a kit to do this activity. Finding some simple rocks around your neighborhood while out on a walk and providing some water-proof paint will do the trick. Encourage your child to paint using colors that reflect their moods. Have them gift the rocks to their siblings or parents, even their pets. Rocks are also a great activity to use during a scavenger hunt. Hide the rocks around the house and take turns going on a hunt.

Kindness-Rocks, photo credit Downtown Glendale AZ Kindness Rocks Project

2) Give them Goals: You can give children as young as 3 a goal each week to be kind to someone else, and to themselves. Whether it’s helping another person carry something, saying please and thank you, telling another person they did a good job, all of these actions count as kindness towards others. It’s important you also stress kindness towards oneself. Encourage statements like “I’m really proud I did that” to help young children practice kindness towards themselves. Keep a running chart on the fridge to mark off when a child displays an act of kindness, and award them at the end of each week.

3) Encouragement during play time: When playing a game in a group where children take turns, example: Miniland’s Emotions Detective or Doll Play, encourage children to practice patience and kindness by being supportive of one another. For example, encourage statements like: “Great job!” “You got that so fast!”. When the game is over, tell your children to shake hands and say “Great game” no matter who won or lost. During play time with various toys like dolls, encourage positive statements as they play. “I like the outfit you chose for that doll, it looks nice.”

Emotions Detective Product

When these easy steps are implemented, kindness slowly becomes the norm. Through these simple tips, you can help your children to be kind to others, and to themselves, on a regular basis.

Photo Mar 06, 11 48 02 PM

photo credit: @dianevkay