Here’s a holiday we love to celebrate! Kindness brings out the best in everyone, especially when someone’s behaving badly. It’s easy to be kind when people are well-behaved, right? The challenge is when someone’s behavior is really trying my patience. When I can control my patience in the face of someone’s difficult behavior, I become a better person for it. In addition, the kindness I show someone when they really need it makes it easier for them to take an emotional deep breath, find their better self, and boost their self-control for the future.
Kids are taking an amazing lead here, creating a wave of kindness sweeping schools and communities. Here are some great examples for kids and adults to emulate:
- Here’s a fantastic story of young adults taking action and standing up to protect one another. Jeremiah Anthony and two classmates at West High School in Iowa City, IA are using Twitter feed @WestHighBros to tweet encouragement and compliments to kids who’ve been bullied. Knowing you can count on your real friends to stand behind you dramatically minimizes the spirit-withering poison of bullying. Join their lead!!
Peer support and encouragement are great bullying prevention tools, even before bullying occurs. Belonging to a school (or any) environment where you receive positive messages about your accomplishments and uniqueness helps kids anchor themselves in respect for self and others. That’s great, because kids anchored in respect for self and others are far less likely to bully others, less likely to seek friendships with bullies, and less likely to stand by and watch others being bullied. Win-win-win!
- Here’s a story about elementary aged students standing up to protect their friends and peers. Kudos to the “Kindness Revolution” at Killip Elementary School in Flagstaff, AZ, where the whole school signed a contract to treat one another with respect and compassion to make everyone feel “happy, safe and loved.” This is so much simpler, more positive, and more effective than bullying prevention “programs”. It’s important to create “emotional breathing space” for every child to grow in their own unique way. Join them in their warm-hearted work!
But wait, there’s more. Research on kindness (yes, there’s even research on kindness!) shows measureable benefits to kindness. A study at the University of California, Riverside assigned 400 kids, ages 9-11, to perform 3 acts of kindness a week for 4 weeks. After 4 weeks, those children were both happier and viewed more positively by their classmates.
Even lead researcher Dr. Kristin Layous was surprised by the extent of the improvement in such a short time. “I was surprised that a simple activity could change the dynamics of a well-established classroom. The most interesting finding to me is that a simple positive activity can promote positive relationships among peers,” said Dr. Layous. It’s an incredibly simple way to prevent bullying before it starts. Let’s get on it!
See the full story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-20851434
It’s pretty simple. When kindness increases, bullying decreases. Looking a bit deeper, those acts of kindness are modeling and teaching empathy, and when empathy increases, bullying decreases.
Here are some simple ideas for random acts of kindness to get us started. We’ll focus on the kids’ actions, but the same ideas hold true in adult environments.
- Smile (A smile has a huge effect on the people around you and you’d be surprised to know how much of the time we all spend scowling, without realizing it!)
- Hold the door
- Help someone who’s dropped or lost something
- Offer to explain today’s math homework to someone who’s struggling
- Share your sports skills – teach someone your best layup or slapshot
- Get extra pencils, handouts, etc for the people around you
- Invite someone to have lunch with you
- Walk home from school with someone new
- Don’t be a bystander – speak up when someone needs your help or protection
You take it from here! Tell us your best ideas and we’ll share them!
Make the world a kinder place, one smile at a time.
Learn More: Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, www.RandomActsOfKindness.org