17 February is Random Acts of Kindness Day (part of a week long celebration from 11-17 February), celebrating kindness in all its forms, whether at school, home or work.
One of the ways we can make the world a better place is to be kind to one another. It's something everyone can do, it's often free, and we can weave kindness into every day of our lives - without having to work too hard to do it!
Being kind makes others feel good, which makes us feel good too; it's a win-win way of living. There's scientific evidence backing up health benefits for people who regularly do things for others.
Let's delve into why kindness should be a priority for all of us; how it specifically benefits teens and take a look at different ways we can all show kindness to others.
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What is kindness?
First things first, what do we mean by kindness? Certainly, it can mean putting other’s needs first (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.
Kindness at home
A great place for your teen to start their kindness initiative is at home - which should also benefit everyone within the household by creating a more harmonious place to live. Like many things in life, kick off with what they're already good at and build from there.
Is your teen a good listener? Maybe they can practise really listening to what their friends or other family members are saying – rather than spending most of the conversation thinking what they want to say next. Too many of us only hear the first part of what people are saying because we spend the rest of the time working out how we are going to reply! It's frustrating feeling as if we haven't been heard and paying attention to listening is a good way of improving communication skills.
Can they cook? How about making something home-cooked for the family to enjoy together, such a s snacks for a film night, a weekend lunch or an evening meal. Could they gift something they've cooked to friends and neighbours, or even donate bakes to raise money for good causes?
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. Being thoughtful towards others is a fundamental forms of kindness and it's a great tool for self-development too.
Reach out to the community
Showing kindness to the wider community is also important, their focus shouldn’t be exclusively on
people they 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. Random acts of kindness for strangers can give especially powerful feel-good vibes too.
Perhaps your teen's a tech wizard (what teen isn't!?) Can they help a local charity or neighbour who is struggling? This might involve developing a website, flyers for a campaign, linking things online, raising awareness through social media or even working out how to use a smart TV or Alexa!
If they want to do more on a regular basis, could they link up with a charity and visit a lonely neighbour, do some dog walking for someone less abled, help deliver groceries, donate clothes/food/blankets to a local shelter or donate some time to running a local scouts/guides club?
Kindness extends beyond people to causes
Kindness extends beyond interactions with others. Do they claim to care about the environment? Are they showing it by reusing grocery bags, putting litter in bins and picking up litter they pass in the street? Do they 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?
These small initiatives add up to lifestyle habits that embody living well, both at a personal level and as part of the community.
Improving their own health
Being kind doesn’t only benefit others - it’s good for their own 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
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.
Developing skills and character
When it comes moving onto the next stage on their career path, many interviewers will look to what teens do outside the classroom to differentiate applicants that might all have similar academic qualifications. Demonstrating values and skills needs examples, and many of the suggestions included in this article can be a way of evidencing what makes them stand out from others, what they're good at and how they put their skills into practise. Moreover, some of the suggestions will enable them to gain a first-hand insight into possible career paths that might not be explored in depth at school. By giving to others, they could be giving back to themselves.
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 Random Acts of Kindness Day to remind ourselves to be kind – not just today but every
day. Need more inspiration? Find examples at https://randomactsofkindnessuk.org.
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.
Expanding their interests
Make sure your teen develops their character and skillsets through their hobbies because this will be important when they're interviewing to progress along their chosen career path. Explore suggestions of possible activies they'll enjoy and what skills they'll develop in The Parents' Guide to Helping your teen stand out.