Activities for teaching kindness to toddlers and children

Teaching your child how to be kind can help them develop empathy and build self-esteem. By thinking about others’ needs, they’re more likely to make connections and feel a sense of belonging. This can also help them feel happier.

Try some different activities with your child. We have also partnered with the Fireman Sam team on the Light Up Your Hero Training Manual, which encourages children to be safe in their homes and look after the environment.

teaching kindness - young girls play together in a sandpit

Find ways to be kind at home

  • Make a family kindness chart. Talk as a family about what kindness is and what activities show kindness. Add these to the chart. Then whenever someone notices an act of kindness, they stick a star to the chart.
  • Notice when your child is kind. Help them see the impact of their actions.
  • Use toys to show acts of kindness. Ask your child for ideas about how the toys can help each other. What do they think a toy might feel after being helpful? How would they feel if someone was kind to them? Talk about being a good friend.
  • Allow your child to see examples in your own behaviour. Tell your child why they’re special to you. Share jobs with other family members, or help others when they need support.

Find kindness in stories

Spot when someone is kind on TV and point it out to your child. Ask them what they think about the character’s behaviour. Or read some books about being kind. You can:

  • Use shows like Fireman Sam or other children’s TV to inspire themes of kindness in your play.
  • Read Be Kind. A book exploring what it means to be kind through the eyes of a school girl.
  • Explore the book Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? This encourages positive behaviour with an ‘invisible bucket’ to hold good thoughts and feelings.
  • Read ABCs of Kindness. An illustrated book showing different ways children can help make the world a kinder place, from A to Z.
  • Read I Like to Be Kind. A little boy doesn’t understand why he needs to help others, but changes his mind after seeing an inspiring example.
  • Ask your child to draw a favourite TV character and talk about how they’re kind to their friends.

Show kindness to friends and family

  • Encourage your child to say thank you to anyone who helps them. Notice when they do this and praise them for it.
  • Spend some time making a card with your child to send to a loved one.
  • Talk to your child about what makes them happy or sad. This will help them develop an understanding of their emotions. Can your child notice when others are sad too? What might make them feel better?
  • Find ways to let your child know that everyone has different ways of feeling good. Some people like hugs, but others don’t. Help your child learn that it’s OK to ask someone what you can do to support them.
  • Point out acts of kindness. If your child helps lay the table you can encourage more of this behaviour by saying, “Thank you for helping me, that’s really kind.”
  • Get your child to trace around their hand. On each finger, write something that they could do to be a good friend. This could be telling the truth, for example, or taking turns. 
  • Tell the people you care about that you love them. If your child sees you doing this, they’re more likely to do it too.

    Help them be kind to the planet

    • Show your child ways to be kind to the planet around your home and garden. Help them recycle or spot butterflies in the garden. Make it into a game with the Fireman Sam Light Up Your Hero Training Manual. When your child has worked through the tasks, they get a ‘Planet Protector Badge’.
    • Donate toys and clothes to charity shops rather than throwing them away.
    • Walk instead of using the car. Make it an adventure. Come up with ways to help you child notice nature and create your own trail near you.
    • If you have a garden or outdoor space, put food out for the birds or make a bug hotel.

    Teach them to be kind at nursery and school

    • Suggest your child lets someone else play with a toy they’re using. Sharing may not come naturally to them, so it may take some practice.
    • Together, think of ways to show appreciation. Your child might want to take in thank you notes for a receptionist, or thank their teacher for helping them learn.
    • Teach your child to be welcoming and include other children. They might say hello to others in their class. Or invite someone to play if they are sitting alone.
    • Ask your child to draw a picture of their hero at nursery or home. This could be their teacher, friend or a family. Talk about why they love them and what makes them a kind person.

    Show them how to be kind in the community

    • Think about how you can make someone else’s day more positive and encourage your child to do the same. This could be letting someone go before them in a queue or asking someone how they are.
    • If you have some food to spare, donate to local foodbank. Get your child to help you collect items to include. Explain why you’re doing it and how it will help people. The Trussell Trust has a tool to find your nearest food bank.
    • Bake cookies with your child and give them your neighbours. Or ask your child to suggest some other ideas for things you could make.
    • Make a kindness scavenger hunt. Write or draw ideas for being kind in the community on some paper and stick it up. Include activities like giving toys and clothes to charity, or donating books to your library. Get your child to tick each task off on the paper once they’re done.

    Action for Children is partnering with the Fireman Sam™ brand on the Light Up Your Hero Training Manual for children. Each page teaches children how to be an everyday hero like Fireman Sam, from being safe at home to protecting the environment. Children can earn badges and a certificate for completing the book. Download the pack to get started.

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