7 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids

Most parents want to encourage their kids to be kind, empathetic, and generous. But focusing on these aims, such as by helping kids perform random acts of kindness, can easily get lost in the shuffle of teaching more tangible skills like how to tie their shoes or write their letters.

Plus, it may seem that caring for others and being a good person are innate qualities rather than traits to be developed. However, putting an emphasis on kindness and giving your child chances to put it into action can cultivate this quality.

Teaching kindness is valuable for its own sake. But studies also show that kids who display more prosocial behavior (like sharing and kindness) are happier, more well-liked, and more successful in school.

Kinder, thoughtful kids are more helpful and pleasant to be around. They also feel better about themselves. Essentially, teaching and reinforcing kindness has a positive influence across a range of academic, health, and social outcomes for kids.

To help your kids learn about and practice kindness, make random acts of kindness a regular habit for your family.

How Kids Learn to Be Kind

When schools teach kindness, children experience increased self-esteem, increased motivation to learn, improved attendance, and decreased bullying and violence. Studies also show kids who engage in acts of kindness are more likely to be accepted by their peers. Good deeds improve children's well-being and help them develop positive perceptions of their world.

Research suggests that children today—even if they can sometimes seem self-absorbed—actually tend to exhibit more empathy toward others than in previous generations. While your child may pick up lessons on kindness from their peers or what they see on social media, they'll also learn from the example set by their parents.

Performing random acts of kindness with your child can encourage them to be generous, compassionate, and giving. Teaching them to do nice things for other people now could be the key to helping them recognize—and act on—opportunities to show kindness later in life.

Donate Items to People in Need

Teach your child to perform random acts of kindness.
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There are real benefits of getting kids involved in fundraising, but sometimes fundraisers are too abstract. Kids may not fully grasp the concept of who they are raising money for or how the money is being used.

Instead, get them directly involved in donating items that assist others. For example, plant a vegetable garden and assign regular duties, such as watering the plants, pulling weeds, and harvesting the vegetables. Then, give the vegetables to people in need. Alternatively, make a meal and deliver it to an older neighbor, relative, or friend.

Gather gently used toys, clothing, and books. Then, donate them to a homeless shelter, library, school, or domestic violence shelter. Talk to your child about where the items are going and let them pick out what they are willing to donate.

Write Thank You Notes

​Thank you notes are not just for gifts your child has received. Instead, teach your child there are always people you can thank at any time of year.

Point out all the people who work hard to make your child's life better and encourage your child to thank them. Help your child write thank you notes (or draw pictures) for people they appreciate: Grandma, a daycare provider, a Sunday school teacher, a family friend.

Create special notes for people who assist your family—such as your mail carrier, the person who cuts your child’s hair, or a healthcare provider. Write letters to thank police officers, firefighters, or local leaders in your community for the work that they do.

Do Chores for Someone

Provide acts of service for people who may need a helping hand. When you make it a regular habit to do so, your child will learn to recognize people in need and act on opportunities when they can pitch in.

For example, identify a neighbor who could use some help with yard work. As a family, rake the leaves, cut the grass, or weed the garden. Another idea is to regularly donate time to help grandparents around the house. Alternatively, encourage your child to surprise a sibling by doing one of their chores for them.

Care for Animals

Children often love doing acts of kindness that involve animals. If you volunteer at a local animal shelter, kids may be allowed to assist with simple chores, such as putting away donations or getting food ready for the animals.

Some animal shelters allow kids to read to dogs. Inquire about an opportunity for your child to share stories or read books to animals who may feel lonely at the shelter.

Additionally, your child could volunteer to walk a neighbor's dog or care for a pet whose owner will be out of town. You can also help your child pick out a special treat for your pet or help with dog training.

Make a Gift for Someone

Encourage your child to create small gifts they can give away to others. Gifts could be simple crafts that they make or pictures that they draw. A homemade card, a simple bird feeder, or a painting can brighten someone’s day.

Rather than encouraging your child to write out lengthy wish lists for the holidays, help them to create a list of kind acts and homemade gifts they can give away instead.

Write down the names of several friends, family members, and neighbors on slips of paper. Put the papers in a jar. Once a week or every other week, draw a name and work with your child to identify a gift you can make or a kind act you can do for that person.

Give Compliments

Random acts of kindness can be as simple as saying something nice to someone. Teach your child to make it a habit to offer compliments and praise other people’s efforts. Together, set a goal at the beginning of the day to give away kind words and compliments.

Whether your child says, “I like your sneakers,” to another child at the playground, or they say, “Your hair looks good today,” to their sibling, talk about what it means to give compliments and how much it can mean to the recipient.

Carry around colored note cards. Let your child write small compliments on them to leave for other people. Leave one behind on the table at a restaurant to compliment your server or for the company that takes care of your yard to celebrate the job they do.

Spread Some Cheer

Random acts of kindness can include any simple gesture that brightens someone else’s day. If you purposely spread cheer on a regular basis, kindness will become second nature to your child. For example, cut some flowers from your garden (or buy some flowers at the store) and give them to someone.

Visit someone who could use some company, such as an older neighbor or someone who may not get out of the house often. Volunteer at a nursing home. Some may welcome children visiting with the residents. Or you may be able to deliver homemade items to the residents, like pictures your child has colored.

Pack extra drinks and snacks when you go to the playground and offer to share with the other children. Start a lemonade stand and give away lemonade for free.

Choose a different person to give special surprises to each month. Then, work with your child to identify kind deeds you can do for that person. See how long you can keep it a secret. Say, "Let's see if we can identify some people to help today." Then go through your day looking for opportunities to hold the door for someone or to let someone go in front of you in line at the store.

A Word From Verywell

You can cultivate gratitude and generosity in your kids by incorporating random acts of kindness into their lives. Even simple gestures can have huge impacts and will set the tone for embracing kindness as an adult.

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