Teaching Kindness to Improve Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing

Teaching Kindness to Improve Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing

In her speech on Monday Kate advised, “If we are worried, upset, lonely or angry – the best thing to do is to talk to someone about it, whether that is your mother or father, a teacher or a friend. I know that in your school you have been working on a project to spread a little kindness, and I think this is such an important thing to do.”

The Duchess then went on to explain how we can use kindness to help each other; “If you see someone who you think might need help, try and be kind to them. Keep a look out for them if they are on their own or seem sad or worried. Perhaps they just need a hug or someone to talk to. I know it is hard if you are feeling down yourself. But helping someone out will also make you feel so much better, too.”

You can find out more about the Duke and Duchess’s visit to The Big Assembly in this video from the day:

The Big Assembly for primary schools was designed to help children understand that everyone experiences big and difficult feelings sometimes, and these can change our behaviour. But these feelings won’t last forever and there are things we can do to make things better. Kindness is a really simple way to try to help your own and others’ wellbeing.

If you’d like to continue Place2Be’s fantastic work at home then take a look at some of their advice from The Big Assembly below, and start practising kindness with your little ones everyday.

Recognising difficult feelings

To help your child better understand difficult feelings, try giving a recent example of a situation that caused a range of big feelings. It could be school-related, or perhaps something that happened at home, or even something you saw on TV. For example, a new baby in the family might make you feel excited, nervous, happy or worried. It’s perfectly normal for different people to respond differently to the same news, and your feelings won’t last forever. Take the time to discuss big feelings with your child, answer their questions and ask them how they would identify difficult feelings in them self or someone else. I.e.

  1. How might you notice a big feeling in yourself?
  2. How might you notice a big feeling in a friend? What might they say or do? How might they look?
  3. Discuss how friends might not behave towards others as they usually do when they have difficult feelings.

Understanding kindness

Stories are a fantastic way to illustrate feelings and show good and bad ways of responding to them. Try choosing one with kindness as its theme and be ready to discuss the importance of kindness during and after the story. Place2Be recommend:

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard (under 7’s)

  1. How did Grumpy Bird’s friends show kindness?
  2. Does kindness always mean having to fix big feelings?

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? By Carol McCloud (all ages)

  1. How might we spot when other people’s buckets are empty?
  2. What can we do to show kindness and fill a friend’s bucket?
  3. How can we keep our own buckets topped up?

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst (all ages)

  1. What big feelings did Alexander have?
  2. What would you do to support Alexander?
  3. How would you show care and kindness?

At the end of the story, take the time to discuss:

  1. Why is kindness important?
  2. How might showing kindness to others make them feel?
  3. How might we feel if we show kindness to a friend?

How can we be kind?

Now that your child recognises the importance of kindness, encourage them to spread kindness every day by talking about ways to be kind at school and at home. The following questions might be a useful starting point:

  1. What does kindness mean to you?
  2. Do you know any other words related to kindness? (e.g. nice, caring, compassion)
  3. How can we spread a little kindness at school?
  4. How do you feel when you are kind to someone else?

Being kind to ourselves

Kindness from others is hugely beneficial, but we sometimes forget to be kind to ourselves, especially when we’re having a difficult time. Discussing how children can be kind to themselves is a great way to help them look after their own wellbeing. Here are some great examples of ways to be kind to ourselves:

  1. I felt angry so I played my favourite game at break time
  2. I was very tired so I had a long relaxing bath and an early night
  3. I was feeling sad so I went to see a friend who is good at cheering me up

Schools taking part in The Big Assembly have been encouraging pupils to write down on a piece of paper every time someone is kind to them and how it made them feel, and to put this in a jar in the classroom. This is something that you could put in place at home too, to help your little one remember all the good things that others did for them that day.

These are simple ways that children can react with kindness to a bad feeling and we hope you’ll find them fun and useful to put in place at home, but don’t forget to remind your little ones that talking to a trusted adult might also be helpful when they have a bad feeling or are worried about someone else.

Place2Be have lots more fantastic resources on children’s mental health, so visit their website today to find out more.

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