How can we teach children to be kind?

8th November 2018

World Kindness Day on 13th November is another timely reminder of the importance of celebrating kindness in society and day-to-day life, promoting good deeds and pledging acts of kindness, either as individuals or organisations.

Kindness UK, an independent not-for-profit organisation positioned as the first point of call on initiatives, unbiased information and research on the subject of kindness, is seeking to increase the value of kindness as well as increasing the amount of kind acts that take place nationwide. As part of its excellent work, Kindness UK champions Kindness Day/Week Ideas for schools, seeking to inspire groups and classes.

From my perspective, kindness is so important and this comes back to instilling values in children. So often we see problems occurring in school where there is fear, and we need to help children overcome any fears which can lead to them not knowingly being unkind. Children need to recognise that everyone is different and accept the barriers that may exist between them, and through 1decision we take an innovative approach to building skills which help to reduce the fears that come through differences.

Being unkind is often based on differences of opinion, and we work a lot with children in primary schools to help them with the ‘agree to disagree’ principle. We also help children build resilience so that if someone is being unkind to them, they react responsibly rather than being unkind back. Being kind is ultimately about breaking down differences and being accepting of others around us – essentially being non-judgemental. Recognising differences, and not being afraid of them, can bring more kindness into the world.

Schools are constantly dealing with behavioural issues – and issues of kindness – and we need to unpick the behaviours that children learn at home or in the community that help them become kinder. It is about breaking the chain around learned behaviour and giving children better knowledge. School is the best place for thatand if collectively we are unable to teach children to be kind by the age of 11, secondary school teaching staff have a much harder job.

Hayley Sherwood, creator of 1decision, part of Headway learning resources

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