The Act of Human Kindness

27 Oct 2023 | Expert Advice and Opinions, Nursery and Early Years

Being kind is an attribute that we all aspire to and a key life skill that is emphasized by both parents and educators when young children are learning to interact with others. Kindness is important for peace and harmony in classrooms (and the world!), but research also shows that children who get on well with their peers are more likely to have good mental and physical health and even perform better academically!


Kindness is a social skill that children begin to develop from approximately 2yrs old (as they become more empathetic) and continues to grow throughout life! As kindness is an abstract concept involving a combination of words and actions that change depending on the context, children need to observe and experience adults behaving kindly towards them and others before they can begin to practise being kind themselves.

Child smiling at teddy bear


Top five techniques to teach and develop kindness in early years education settings:

  1.  Read stories with ‘kind’ characters and discuss how they feel when they are kind and when someone is kind to them.
  2. Catch kids being kind – praise and reward spontaneous acts of kindness e.g. stickers, extra play time, round of applause etc.
  3.  Be kind to teddy- have a class mascot that children can practice being kind to every day e.g. “Teddy might feel lonely over there, lets let him sit with us”.
  4. Spread some kindness- Use a prop (e.g. a kindness heart, ball, etc.) during circle time and ask children to ‘pass on’ some kind words to the person next to them.
  5. Be kind rewind- If a child didn’t behave kindly the first time, give them an opportunity to try again and rewind and be kind instead!
Kindness Hearts

This article was kindly written by by Inés Lawlor who has over 20 years experience in occupational therapy. She has worked with children with neurodevelopmental conditions, intellectual disability and more recently mental health difficulties in clinics, home and education settings.

If you’re interested in more articles from Ines, take a read of Teaching Emotional Literacy to Support Children’s Mental Health.

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