Each year on November 13, participants around the world make a conscious effort to celebrate and promote acts of kindness for #WorldKindnessDay, as well as pledge acts of kindness as organizations or individuals (1). The first World Kindness Day was in 1998, led by the World Kindness Movement. The mission of World Kindness Day and the Movement is, “to create a kinder world by inspiring individuals and nations towards greater kindness” (1). In observance of this day, we wanted to explore the science of kindness. We have also developed three ways for you to encourage your students to show kindness each and every day.
“One act of kindness towards one human being changes the world. Because to change the world all we have to do is change one life.” -Leon Logothetis
Kindness is the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate (2). As it turns out, being kind is not only good for those on the receiving end of a kind act, but for those participating in and witnessing it. Maybe you have seen a kindness chain reaction video online that portrays this. Research suggests that even just witnessing acts of kindness can produce oxytocin in our brains, which can aid in lowering blood pressure and improving our overall heart-health. Oxytocin also has the power to increase our self-esteem and optimism, which is extra helpful when we’re anxious or shy in a social situation (3).
Whether you are the recipient of a kind act or the giver, the reward can be the same. Science tells us that our bodies experience a unique reaction when engaging kindness, specifically giving. The reaction is so powerful that researchers have coined a name for it: they call it the helper’s high. Put simply, when you help someone out or do something kind, your body releases endorphins that cause happiness.
So, the question becomes, how do we celebrate world kindness day with our students while also encouraging the importance of being kind each and every day? Below are five classroom applications for instilling a heart of kindness in your students and encouraging a chain reaction of kindness throughout your school.
Hang a random acts of kindness list in your classroom. These lists provide students with excellent ideas for random acts of kindness that can be modified for any grade level. Teachers may also choose to have the class develop this list together.
Write sticky notes of encouragement. Providing each student with a small stack of sticky notes (10–15) and encouraging them to write uplifting things and stick them on a classmate’s desk, locker, or school bathroom mirror. Random Acts of Kindness provides a few phrases to get you started!
- You know who’s awesome? Read that first word again.
- Throw kindness around like confetti.
- Hey, you’re great.
- One kind word can change someone’s entire day.
- Be the reason someone smiles today.
- Psst…you’re awesome.
Write letters as a class. Have each student choose a member your school or district and write them a brief letter thanking them for the impact that individual has made on their life. Teachers may choose to set up a thank you note station in their classroom that they keep up year-round.
For more on kindness, giving, and empathy, see: