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National Say Something Nice Day: Teaching Your Kids About Kindness

We could all use a little more kindness in the world. And on June 1st, it’s our chance to spread extra kindness around like confetti. June 1st is National Say Something Nice Day as a simple way to make our world a little brighter. The goal is to challenge yourself to say something nice to each person you come across that day; to dig deep and find something you truly appreciate about each person. 


Our calendar could use a few more Say Something Nice Days. But the good news is, we don’t have to limit it to just one day. You can adopt this day and make it a tradition in your family. Because teaching kindness and empathy and raising good humans starts at home. 


Why we need more kindness

This probably doesn’t even need to be said; unkindness isn’t new. Humans have been unkind to each other as long as we’ve been on this planet. But today, the ways we can access each other to be unkind via social media and phones is unprecedented. And all of this affects our kids just as much as it affects us, if not more since they’re naturally less mature than an adult. It all adds up to potentially very harmful, damaging behavior. And besides, doesn’t a kinder world just sound more pleasant? We think so, too. 


Teaching kindness 

But kids are moldable if anything, they want to learn. Here are a few ways you can raise kind, empathetic kids. 


    • Treat others how you want to be treated. Your kids might need reminders that before saying something to a friend, think of how they might feel if that was said to them. How would they feel if their friend made that comment about their new haircut or their shoes? Would they want to be complimented for doing something right or put down when they mess up? 
  • Model kindness yourself. Your kids are going to be hard-pressed to be kind to others if they’re constantly watching their parent berating a barista for getting their coffee order wrong, yelling at other drivers on the road, or getting snippy with slow cashiers at the store. Kids model the behavior they see at home.
  • Encourage kind habits. Help your kids match the idea of kindness with more concrete acts of expressing kindness like holding the door for a stranger, thanking the bus driver, helping a classmate with their books. And when you catch them doing something kind like picking up their toys without being asked or helping their little sister, be sure to praise them and let them know what a nice act of kindness that was! 
    • Say something nice. The old adage “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” is still true. Help your kids learn how to find the positives and comment on those, rather than pointing out the negatives or what they don’t like.
    • Guide managing those big emotions. When kids are experiencing big emotions like anger or envy, those feelings can overwhelm their ability to care for others. You can help them learn to work through those feelings. Richard Weissbourd, a Harvard psychologist with the graduate school of education, who runs the Making Caring Common project, aimed to help teach kids to be kind says, “Here’s a simple way to teach your kids to calm down: ask your child to stop, take a deep breath through the nose and exhale through the mouth, and count to five. Practice when your child is calm. Then, when you see her getting upset, remind her about the steps and do them with her. After a while she’ll start to do it on her own so that she can express her feelings in a helpful and appropriate way.”

    On this National Say Something Nice Day, take the time to talk to your kids about kindness and what kindness means to them. If a little kindness can go a long way, imagine what a world full of kindness can do.