Inside: Learn 60+ printable random acts of kindness ideas for kids. Plus, a 3-part guide for getting your kids on board with kindness.
I parked the car, got out and opened the trunk to a sea of grocery bags filled with food and toiletries.
I unbuckled my son, and as he hopped out, I said, “Hey buddy. You can grab a bag and carry it into the house.”
He responded promptly. “Um. No thank you.”
Calmly but firmly, I explained, “Woah. You can help. There’s a lot of bags and I need to help your sister into the house.”
He persisted, “No thank you.”
Not exactly the response I was hoping for. It’s everyday moments like this shave layers off of my patience.
And for me, it wasn’t really about the grocery bags. It was more about my kid seeing someone asking and needing help and deliberately ignoring it.
Small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness should be part of our daily life.
I wanted it to be a habit.
Random acts of kindness with kids – is there an easier way?
Teachable moments with kids are useful in the moment, but sometimes kids get locked in their emotional brains and there is no coaching them out of the power struggle.
That’s why guiding and coaching your kids is far more doable when you work on it regularly and everyone is calm.
I decided to try something new.
I desperately wanted to create a habit of kindness in my everyday life with the kids. I wanted to minimize battles over sharing, boost responsibility and create little moments (like carrying a grocery bag) that promoted kindness.
I wanted to strengthen their kindness muscle.
Using these printable chore cards work great for responsibility and helpfulness, but I wanted to take it a step further. The more I could teach values in different ways, the more likely it was to stick.
I started by printing these 60+ printable random acts of kindness cards for kids. Together my son and I cut them out and placed them in a bowl on the kitchen table. We decided to do a 10-day kindness challenge and see what happened.
Each day, we’d pick one card and do something kind for someone else.
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Get your kids on board with random acts of kindness.
1. Describe the situation. Let your kids know what’s about to happen.
It might sound something like, “These are our kindness cards. I want to use them to spread kindness to our friends and community for 10 days. Each day you can choose one card, or I can choose one card, and we can do it together.”
Reflect your child’s response back to them (this is the SAY WHAT YOU SEE part of Language of Listening®).
So for example if they say, “Yuck. I don’t want to do those cards.” You can say something like, “Sounds like you’re not ready yet. Must be something you can do.” Or, “Sounds like you’re not sure about this. You might have another idea for showing kindness.”
In my personal experience, the kids are usually excited and say something like, “Yay. I want to try them!” And I will respond with something like, “You look really excited about this. I’d love to hear how you think we should do this challenge.”
This step immediately builds connection with your child and gets you on the same side.
2. Let the child know what they can do.
It might sound something like, “You can choose the card each day, and you can decide when we do the card.”
Kids absolutely thrive when given the opportunity to be self-directed.
Anything that offers your child a path to make decisions and works within your boundary will help your child take ownership. Your child may even choose who they do the act of kindness for or to choose a different card if they don’t like a particular one.
3. Once completed, name what the child did well.
In Language of Listening® this is called naming STRENGTHs. It might sound something like, “You created a picture for Grandma and put it in the mail special for her today. That was kind and thoughtful.”
Or, “You took 5 toys to the playground and shared them with other kids. That was hard for you, but you did it anyway. Powerful!”
Strengths always come from the child’s actions, which means your praise is never empty praise, but based on observation and facts.
STRENGTHs will help your child discover his or her inner greatness. Every child is filled with kindness and thoughtfulness; it’s only a matter of helping them recognize it.
10 Day Acts of Kindness Challenge
Each day we picked one act of kindness idea. Right away, he started calling them “the cards to help our friends.”
The goal wasn’t to have my kid be perfectly kind 100 percent of the time, but instead to give him easy opportunities to build his kindness muscle.
Day 1: Bake cookies for the neighbors.
He was super excited about baking cookies. No surprise there. He was also excited about taking the cookies to two of our neighbor friends.
He was not excited about leaving the cookies and not going inside to play.
Day 2: Create a picture / letter for a grandparent.
This was a breeze. He loves coloring at this stage right now. And he was extremely excited about getting to send mail to someone. That was a very fun experience for him, and it opened my eyes to how much joy kids experience in the seemingly mundane adult tasks.
Day 3: Leave a balloon at a friend’s door with a kind message.
Another success! He loved the idea of creating “surprises” for friends and leaving them at their doors. He said, “This is a special kindness.”
Day 4: Share your toys at the playground with a friend.
Not. so. great.
My son didn’t want to share his Big Wheel at the park, which was fine. Kids don’t have to share everything, but the way he handled it was definitely in need of some coaching.
When he went off to play with something else, and a friend tried to ride his Big Wheel, he’d run over and attempt to thrust them off the bike.
Kindness…building a muscle takes time. 😬
Day 5: Give a hug to someone you love.
Easy. Takes only a minute. And serves as a quick kindness reminder when you’re short on time.
Day 6: Pick up litter and put it in the garbage.
Both my kids loved this one! And I secretly loved it too.
The beach near our home is always littered with trash. After filling a garbage bag, we laid in the sand admiring our handiwork.
Day 7-9: Donate clothing to charity, hold the elevator and read a book to a sibling.
All successes. The kindness muscle was growing.
Day 10: Offer to help carry a bag of groceries.
As I parked the car, got out and opened the trunk to another sea of groceries, I was ready to see if our little kindness challenge really did create a habit of kindness.
“Hey buddy. There’s a lot of groceries in the trunk. You can come pick out a bag to help carry inside.”
His blank stare was ambivalent at best.
As he hopped around to the trunk, I handed him a bag that contained cherry tomatoes and a roll of paper towel.
“No, I don’t want that one,” he said handing the bag to his sister.
I paused using ‘wait time’ — where you give it a minute or two before saying anything.
(Because kids will surprise you in the most amazing ways.)
He said, “Sister, you take the small bag. You help too. I’ll take this bigger bag. C’mon mom, let’s go!”
The magic was just beginning.
In the weeks following our kindness challenge, we would pick a few cards per week.
Most days, kindness wove into our days without using the cards.
It wasn’t without bumps in the road.
Sometimes there were tears. Or he’d change his mind. This was part of it. It was the building of a kindness muscle. Learning to give to others when you don’t especially feel like it is extremely hard for a child.
This was a beautiful life lesson in the moment, despite the messiness. Doing an act of kindness everyday wasn’t meant to look cookie cutter or like the movies. It was meant to look like real life.
And it did… Just picture a 1 year-old dragging a bag of cherry tomatoes on the concrete sidewalk, a 4 year-old sobbing that he can’t carry a gallon of milk and a bag chock full of veggies, and a mom who is simply trying to keep it together.
A simple acts of kindness challenge for kids is a powerful tool. I never expected to see my kids get so excited about doing things for others. You can help your kids build their own kindness muscle too.
Want more on parenting?
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- How to Get Your Child to Stop Whining — Immediately
- 8 Remarkable Phrases That Will Help You Raise a Grateful Child
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