Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind. – Henry James
In a world that seems anything but kind these days, an international observance of kindness feels needed. World Kindness Day was introduced in 1998 by a coalition of worldwide organizations dedicated to spreading kindness. Since that time, many organizations around the world observe this day. Each year, independent organizations, schools, clubs, and other groups celebrate World Kindness Day on November 13.
Benefits of Kindness
Exercising your kindness muscle not only makes the world a better place, but it also has numerous benefits for health and well-being. Performing simple acts of kindness for others:
- Boosts serotonin – Serotonin is a hormone residing in the human brain that helps with mood stability and feelings of well-being and happiness. It also helps with digestion and sleep.
- Releases endorphins – Many of us associate endorphins with the positive feelings that come from exercise, but you can also trigger them without breaking a sweat. Acts of kindness help to produce a “helper’s high” that helps us to feel connected and happy.
- Eases anxiety – The natural result of more happiness chemicals flooding your brain is the reduction of anxiety. Kindness toward others releases the hormone oxytocin, which helps ease anxiety by enabling you to form social bonds with others.
- Strengthens your heart – The release of oxytocin in your brain, in turn, releases nitric oxide in your blood vessels. This dilates the blood vessels, lowering blood pressure and strengthening your heart muscle.
- Reduces stress – It’s hard to feel stressed when you’re focused on helping someone else. Studies have shown that acts of kindness trigger improvements in positive emotions, increasing happiness and reducing stress.
- Prevents illness – The positive, healthy hormones that kindness triggers can also protect you from getting sick quite so often. In addition to helping to strengthen the heart, oxytocin also reduces inflammation, which is an underlying factor in many illnesses.
Kindness benefits both the giver and receiver. The mental and physical health effects of kind actions benefit individuals and society at large. On World Kindness Day, enlisting your students to perform random acts of kindness can help transform your classroom, as well.
World Kindness Day in the Classroom
Celebrating World Kindness Day in the classroom can involve many different activities. From the small and private kind gesture to a big display of group kindness, there are lots of ways to spark thoughtfulness in your students.
Use World Kindness Day as a starting point for introducing your students to acts of kindness. Many may already be in the habit of being kind, while others may need a bit of guidance in performing kindness for others. As part of social and emotional learning (SEL), kindness can be part of your SEL curriculum. There are numerous resources online for incorporating kindness into lesson plans. These can include activities like:
Kindness Activities in the Classroom
- Behind Your Back – What kind things do students have to say behind the backs of their classmates? Have each student attach a sheet of paper to their back and let your class go around and write one nice thing about each person on the paper.
- Write Around – Create a “complete the sentence” worksheet, and have each student sign their name to the top but leave the rest blank. Collect the papers, shuffle them, and pass them around, allowing students to complete the sentences for their classmates. This can be a wonderful, low-pressure activity for your more introverted students.
- One Good Thing – Take a few minutes at the beginning of the class period, the day, or the week, and invite students to share one good thing that happened since the last time everyone was together. With enough practice, even students who have a difficult home life can learn to find positive events – even if the best they can come up with sometimes is that their favorite team won.
- Kindness Rocks – Many people are familiar with painted rock projects all around the world. Most students love a good art project, and rock painting can be a fun way to spread kindness long after World Kindness Day is over.
- Spreading Kindness – Taking random acts of kindness out of your classroom and into the entire school or community can help your students to flex their kindness muscle. Brainstorm for ideas and make a plan for taking what they’ve learned about being kind beyond the walls of your classroom. Once your students experience the feel-good sensation of spreading kindness, they may want to keep doing it all year!
World Kindness Day and PBIS Rewards
A PBIS initiative can make it easier to introduce the concept of kindness and enable students to practice kind acts. By including kind behaviors on your matrix and recognizing them when they occur, students make the connection between their actions and the positive feelings they create.
PBIS Rewards allows you to take your behavior matrix and social and emotional learning up a notch by making your initiative digital. Our SEL Check feature helps educators to keep tabs on student emotions. You can also activate the student self-reporting SEL Check feature to encourage students to share their social and emotional states whenever needed.
Positive behaviors and kindness go hand-in-hand in a PBIS initiative. We’d love to show you how to build a strong, positive school climate through the digital management of PBIS. Contact us to learn more!Request a Demo