HOW COULD YOU CELEBRATE WORLD KINDNESS DAY? 

Jennifer Hanson-Peterson

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“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.”

- Dr. Barbara De Angelis

This is certainly an age-old piece of wisdom, perhaps a message a parent or grandparent has communicated to you at some point in your life. But did you know this notion - that kindness is linked to wellbeing - is supported by research?

In a study conducted by Sonja Lyubomirsky and colleagues (2005), it was found that intentional acts of kindness increase the wellbeing of both the receiver and the giver. Greater happiness and positive social interactions are experienced when something is done altruistically. That is, for others without expecting anything in return, especially when it comes at a personal cost to the giver.

Monday 13 November is World Kindness Day. To celebrate this day, Geelong Grammar School is organising a ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ campaign, encouraging staff and students to direct an anonymous (or not!) act of kindness to someone else on or around this day. Although names will be randomly allocated amongst those who are keen to participate, it is completely up to the individual to decide what their act of kindness will involve. Research shows such acts must be meaningful and diverse for optimal benefit. In fact, Boehm, Lyubomirsky & Sheldon’s (2008) empirical study revealed that variety, diversity and meaning of acts of kindness are more important than the frequency of acts in nurturing positive relationships and wellbeing.

If you would like to help your school participate in World Kindness Day, here are some other activities you could try in your classroom:

ACTIVITY: Erasing unkindness

Teach your students that they have a choice when it comes to how they treat others. On a whiteboard, write in large letters ‘How do you want to be remembered?’ Surround this phrase with unkind verbs and nouns (e.g., bully, intimidating, gossip). Lead a discussion on the impact of our actions on others. Erase one of the unkind words and replace it with a kind word (e.g., forgiving, helpful, generous). Ask your students to come up to the whiteboard and do the same, replacing unkind words with kind words. Debrief this activity as a group – what did they learn about how they would like to be defined? 

ACTIVITY: Responding with kindness even when it's difficult 

Explore with your students the idea of responding with kindness even when it is the difficult response. Discuss a range of scenarios in which they are asked to respond with kindness to a difficult, challenging situation or to a peer who has been unkind. Some examples include:

1. A friend has asked you to help them with their homework but you are on your way to lunch 

2. A competitive classmate has lashed out in a game during P.E.

3. A classmate who is regularly teased is being picked on again – you are worried you might get picked on too if you say something

You could also ask your students to come up with a few of their own scenarios. Ask your students to generate a list of ways they could help and show kindness in these situations. Ask them to reflect on such questions as: How similar or dissimilar is the kind response to how you have responded to previous, similar situations in real life? How might your kind response impact the other person, yourself, your relationship, those observing the interaction? Are there situations in which it is inappropriate to respond with kindness?

Kindness note 

 

If you would like to express more kindness yourself, here are some ideas:

Kindness in your school - 

  • Help your students feel valued -- greet every student in the morning with a smile and use their name, choose words that demonstrate your care and consideration for them 
  • Really listen to what your students say -- give them your full attention, use eye contact and ask questions with genuine curiosity
  • Put sticky notes with positive messages around the school -- on the walls, on bathroom mirrors, hidden in library books

 

Kindness in your personal life -

  • Be aware of the little ways you could help those around you (even strangers!) and make them feel appreciated – holding open the door, helping someone carry their shopping, making someone a cup of tea, giving them a pat on the back or a hug, smiling at them
  • Give genuine compliments to friends, family, and even acquaintances when you like something about them – the way they make people feel included, the playfulness they bring to a space, their ‘give it a go’ attitude

  • Think creatively about ways you can nurture your relationships with those around you – plan a random outing, surprise someone with flowers, send a handwritten note to a friend telling them what they mean to you, put a positive message in your kid’s/partner’s lunchbox

 

Useful resources to explore kindness:

 

We would love to hear what your school is doing to celebrate World Kindness Day and how this helps your school community flourish! Tag us on Social Media or email us at institute@ggs.vic.edu.au