Building a Kindness Tree: Instilling Habits of Kindness

Posted on February 13, 2016 in Character, Kindergarten.

I came across a blog recently by Kristina Sargent, a mental health therapist who works with children and families.  Her topic was “Growing Hearts of Kindness” and with Valentine’s Day coming up I was intrigued.  I had also been reflecting on the little acts and words of kindness that seemed all around me growing up and realized how much I missed them. 

These were things like seeing my dad open the car door for my mom (yes, we did have cars when I was little).  Could she have opened her own door – of course!  But I remember thinking how nice that was and later realizing it was an act of love and caring.  I remember people always offering to help whether it was carrying a bag of groceries or giving up a seat on the bus for someone older.  I remember hearing kind words and always a please and thank you response.

Then I started to think,  are we just so very busy now that we overlook these things in our quest to get on to the next task before us?  And just how do we go about teaching kindness?  

Ms. Sargent went on to say that she uses specific labeled praise during her therapy sessions.  Intriguing… so I continued to read and found some great suggestions.  Now, when I see one of my little friends saying or doing something kind, I quickly try to point it out – “Fred, I saw you help your friend clean up the crayons he dropped and you weren’t even using any of them.  That was so kind of you!  I bet you made Fred feel very happy when you did that.” Not only is the act praised, but also pointing out the feelings of the person receiving the kind act is important to reinforce.   I have also added a “Kindness Tree” on one of our walls.  The students get specific recognition for what they have done.  It has a label – it was kind – and to top it off, they get a heart with their name on it to add to our tree.  At the end of the day, they can take the heart home and Mom and Dad can see and praise them for their choice.

I am specifically using the word “kind” rather than nice because I think is has more meaning.  It also gave us an opportunity to talk about what “kind” would look like.  We have only been doing this for a few days, but already I have seen my little friends look for ways to be kind or say something kind to a classmate.  We are building habits of kindness in K-4.

– Barbara Hammel, K-4

Kindness Trees

Bannockburn Christian Academy instilling kindness in our junior scholars

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