40 Random Acts of Kindness for Youth
Of everything we want to teach the youth of our world, the importance of kindness is one of the most valuable. Science has even shown numerous health benefits including an improved immune system, decreased stress levels, feelings of purpose and a sense of connectedness. Get going with these random acts of kindness for youth.
Ideas for Families
- Create a Kindness Calendar - Providing children ideas and a framework for practicing kindness helps ingrain kindness as a way of life. Week one may include such simple tasks as smiling at the grumpy neighbor or holding the door open at the grocery store.
- Choose Secret Helpers - Draw among your family's names to decide who gets extra doses of kindness that week, such as taking on an extra chore or giving special compliments.
- Cook for a Neighbor - Involve the kids in preparing and delivering a meal for a sick or elderly neighbor.
- Start a Coin Fund - As a family, choose a nonprofit you will donate the extra change you collect in a large jar. Set a goal and timeline.
- Call Your Extended Family - Surprise a new member each week, especially older or homebound relatives who could use extra family support.
- Share Positive Experiences - Whether around the dinner table or on the way to school, make sure children are exposed to good things that happen during our week, as well as some positive news items.
- Leave an Online Review - When you receive excellent service at a restaurant or other place of business, show your children the value of positive praise and feedback.
- Mail a Care Package to the Grandparents - Let the grandchildren decide on unique favorites they think grandma or grandpa will enjoy and include notes and drawings.
- Bring Gifts to Children's Hospital Patients - Have family members think of inexpensive toys or books they would like if they were stuck in a hospital room, then deliver some joy.
- Help out Anonymously - Make someone smile with no strings attached — rake the neighbor's leaves, shovel their snow or leave a basket of goodies just because, no thanks needed.
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Ideas for Teachers
- Start Early - Even as young as the preschool group, encourage children to color pictures for another class member, teacher, principal, janitor, librarian or anyone needing a little thanks and appreciation.
- Offer Mentor Opportunities - Arrange times where older children can offer homework assistance, read books or play games with younger students.
- Prepare Welcome Kits - Ask students to bring in or create items to make packages to welcome new students who arrive throughout the school year. Include items such as pencils, notebooks, stickers and student-made welcoming notes and cards.
- Letter Lessons - Teach students of all ages the importance of writing formal and casual thank you letters. Then, have them write and send several examples of each.
- Honor Staff Members - Chose a different staff member each month to honor with real or crafted flowers and a special note of thanks — remember your school nurse, front desk secretary, custodians and cafeteria workers.
- Make a Kindness Box - Write simple kindness activities on colorful slips of paper that students randomly choose from at the beginning of each week such as: sit by the new student at lunch, compliment your school counselor or help a friend study.
- Design Bulletin Boards Promoting Kindness - Have students brainstorm practical ideas for kindness towards their peers.
- Designate Kindness Days - Set a monthly schedule to focus kindness acts for specific areas such as Kindness in the Cafeteria Day, Kind Acts at Recess or Be Nice to My Teacher Day.
- Make a Video Promoting Kindness - Have small groups of students strategize kindness ideas and create videos to share at morning announcements or an appropriate assembly.
- Demonstrate the Power of Words - Have students create a variety of positive messages on colorful sticky notes to be posted throughout the school. Show examples to the class such as "Just be kind," "Choose your words with kindness" and "Thanks for all you do."
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Ideas for Summer Camp Counselors
- Assemble Care Packages - The level of complexity can be adapted to almost any age group. Examples include preparing back-to-school backpacks for foster kids, homeless shelter toiletry kits or hospital entertainment packs with books and games.
- Set Up a Kindness Station - Create a designated spot where campers can work on various kindness projects during breaks or downtime. Provide craft materials for thank you cards, love notes, drawings and more.
- Share News You Can Use - Find stories of good deeds and kindness at your camp, school, neighborhood, state or nation and create a compilation in a newsletter format to be distributed to local schools and businesses. It could be as simple as printed copies or as elaborate as actual newsprint with corporate sponsorship.
- Encourage Active Listening - Remind children and adults of all ages of the value of listening as an act of kindness — when you ask someone how they are doing, stop and listen with compassion. Practice with role-play activities.
- Make Friendship Bracelets - Design and deliver handmade bracelets to other campers and staff members.
- Send Hearts of Love - Cut out red paper hearts with ideas for acts of kindness towards friends or family members such as picking up toys without being asked, preparing a meal, or thoughtful compliments.
- Remember Our Animals - Craft birdbaths and bird feeders or volunteer to walk dogs at a local shelter.
- Perform Kindness Skits - Break camp participants into small groups and have them organize skits with useful and funny ideas for kindness activities.
- Keep it Clean - Pick up trash around your school, church or playground.
- Decorate Doors - Depending on the venue, students can decorate the doors of activity rooms or camp dorm rooms with colorful and creative encouraging messages.
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Ideas for Youth Group Leaders
- Offer Free Babysitting - A great way for teens to help out is to babysit younger kids for church activities, especially meetings that may involve lower-income families.
- Provide the Snacks - Make youth group members responsible for making and bringing the snacks for an evening church meeting, perhaps one honoring the service of others.
- Write Letters to Missionaries - Provide the paper, envelopes, addresses and stamps at one of your regular youth group meetings to encourage members to send thankful and encouraging letters to hardworking missionaries overseas.
- Host an Appreciation Dinner - Plan, provide and serve a special dinner for all the adults who may have helped fund and volunteer for the youth group's activities during the year.
- Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen - Organize a service trip for students to help serve or make food for the homeless.
- Begin an Email Campaign - Send and share messages of kindness and hope all around the world. Start with other local youth groups, then move on to state, national and international levels.
- Send Cards to Ill Members - Whether it's for another youth group member or adults in long-term care, show them someone cares with handmade cards.
- Design a Board Game - Get creative with board spaces suggesting small acts of immediate kindness such as giving a compliment, smiling across the table or sharing a happy story.
- Fundraise for a Cause Other Than Your Own - Choose a group that needs the money even more. Plan bake sales, car washes or whatever it takes.
- Host a Brainstorming Session - Teens uniting with a common goal can change the world one act of kindness at a time. See what your group can do!
Promote kindness until it becomes a habit, and don't forget to notice and acknowledge the good things you catch youth doing on their own. Recognize acts as simple as holding a door open or helping out a sibling. If you get in the habit of encouraging these behaviors, they will hopefully be repeated for a lifetime.
Laura Jackson is a freelance writer based in Hilton Head, S.C. with her husband and two teenagers.