Teaching kindness and empathy is a big priority in our family. I think, as a psychologist, this stands out even more to me because I know it is a learned behavior. There are people who go through life without having the opportunity to learn these skills. I want our kids to put these skills into practice from an early age. There is a part of me that wants to shelter them from all hurtful things but I know I need to expose them slowly and gently so that they are not in for a shock as they get older. I think most people agree that, in an ideal world, there should be no such thing as incurable childhood illness. It is heart wrenching to hear about a gravely ill child.
There is a boy that has been in the news, Bubby Everson, who lives in Washington with his family. He has a number of health issues and his family does not know how many birthdays he has left. So, they asked the community, which grew to be the worldwide community for cards and stickers to make his 9th birthday extra special. He now has thousands of cards and stickers and his family will have him cover the walls in stickers because it brings him joy. After discussing Bubby’s illness, and the serious nature of it (compared with the common cold), the Sugar Snaps made him cards and we went to the store and purchased lots of stickers for him. Next, we went to the post office and mailed him the package.
Tips for teaching kindness by making cards or care packages for sick children:
- No need to wait for a news story: Find a local children’s hospital and ask if children there would benefit from homemade cards or care packages.
- Talk about giving to benefit someone else without getting anything in return.
- Have your children be involved in each step, from making the cards to packaging them and delivering them.
- Use this exercise as a jumping off point to talk about other ways they can help in their community.
What activities have you done with your children or students to teach about kindness and empathy? I would love to hear about them in the comments and/or on the Capri + 3 Facebook page. I would also love to see your pictures on our Facebook page.
Check out all the kindness activities from the Playful Preschool Team:
Writing Activities: Kindness Postcards by Growing Book by Book
Teaching Preschoolers Kindness with Bob and Larry Puppets by Life Over C’s