Is there more to kindness than doing something nice?
13 November is World Kindness Day, an initiative that aims to celebrate kindness in all its forms, whether at school, home or work.
Being kind makes others feel good and can make the world a nicer place to be, and who doesn't want that?
But there are other benefits to showing kindness, particularly to mental and physical health, so is there more to it than just being nice?
Keep up-to-date on all things teen related with our fortnightly newsletter
What is kindness?
First things first, what do we mean by kindness? Certainly, it can mean putting other’s needs first (and certainly above our own) but it doesn’t necessarily need to involve high levels of self-sacrifice. In fact, showing kindness doesn’t rely on expensive or time-consuming actions – small acts of kindness can be equally powerful. Sharing a kind word with a stranger, paying someone a compliment, and expressing appreciation are all simple ways to show kindness.
Linking kindness to skills and personal development
Here at The Parents’ Guide to, we often talk about ways teens can develop their skillsets, and skills
and kindness are a winning combination. Is your teen a good listener? Maybe they can practise really
listening to what someone else is saying – rather than spending most of the conversation thinking
what they’ll say next. Good at cooking? They could make something home-cooked for the family to
enjoy together, gift some items to friends and neighbours, or even donate bakes to raise money for
good causes. Great with tech? Can they help a local charity or neighbour who is struggling?
If charity begins at home, then helping around the house is another way to show kindness and
respect, whilst developing their ability to look after themselves. Pick up those wet towels from the
floor, run the hoover around shared house areas as well as their own room, stack the dishwasher
and tidy the bathroom.
Reach out to the community
Showing kindness to the wider community is also important, our focus shouldn’t be exclusively on
people we know. Giving up a seat on public transport, opening doors and letting people go first can
make a huge difference to others who may be struggling due to age or ill-health, especially if this is
not immediately obvious.
Kindness extends beyond people to causes
Kindness extends beyond our interactions with others. Care about the environment? Show it by
reusing grocery bags, putting your litter in bins and picking up litter you pass in the street. Air dry
clothes instead of using a dryer (could apply to hair too!), walk or cycle instead of getting a lift,
donate clothes to charity or toys to a children’s hospital, buy pre-loved items for yourself and turn
off lights when leaving an empty room!
Improving your own health
Being kind doesn’t only benefits others - it’s good for your health too! It’s been proven to increase
self-esteem, empathy and improve mood. The Mental Health Foundation cites that it can reduce
stress, improve mental wellbeing and even help us live longer – benefiting both mental health and
physical health too.
Kindness is a valuable quality for teens to develop, as it also helps strengthen relationships and
connectedness with others. To quote the old adage, people may forget what you said and what you
did, but they never forget how you made them feel. Make people feel good, and they’ll want to
spend more time with you, helping to expand and deepen connections – whether at home or at
school, personal or professional.
According to research, people who try to be kind experience more kindness, making them feel
happier. Could this be that their own awareness of trying to treat others kindly helps them notice
when others are kind to them? There’s certainly evidence to suggest that when people benefit from
kindness they are more likely to go on to express kindness themselves – leading to ongoing, virtuous
So, let’s use Kindness Day UK to remind ourselves to be kind – not just today but every
Protecting mental wellbeing
You can’t stop your teen experiencing stress; however, you can help them develop systems to deal with it more effectively. Find out how in The Parents' Guide to Teenage anxiety and stress.