According to yourdictionary.com, the definition of “unkind” is “cruel or inconsiderate of others”. It continues that an example of someone unkind is “a very strict, mean school principal” and an example of something unkind is “a person taking a treat from the hand of a child”.
“I don’t want him anywhere near me”, “Why would anyone want to be friends with her?”, “Look how awful he looks”….. Comments like these, or worse, are not uncommon among children and even with adults. We now live in an age where photographs and posts online can accumulate nearly instant and anonymous comments from total strangers and acquaintances alike. These reactions can be rude or vicious. It is more important than ever that we teach children to be kind to others.
Today, judging others seems to be an activity practised by too many people. It is all too easy to post comments about other people, whether they are celebrities or ordinary, everyday citizens. Unkindness is not new; we have been doing it since ancient times. But today the ease, speed, and anonymity with which people can pass judgments on others are unprecedented. Children who are at the forefront of technology and social networking are learning from what they see around them.
Teaching good manners, such as being respectful to others, greeting people properly and speaking to people in a polite way is an important part of raising a kind child. For me, having good manners and treating others respectfully is a non-negotiable. These are enforced daily by all staff and that is the key – as a community we need to have the same expectations and be prepared to challenge when they are not met.
The phrase ‘random acts of kindness’ refers to a selfless act of giving resulting in the happiness of another person. Terms like this are increasing in popularity around the world, perhaps as more people identify a deficiency in their lives that can only be fulfilled by altruism. It seems we just cannot get enough of those addictive feel good emotions and with good reason. Scientific studies have shown that kindness has a great number of physical and emotional benefits, and that children require a healthy dose of the “warm and fuzzies” in order to flourish as healthy, happy, well-rounded individuals.
This week has seen the publication of the latest edition of the now infamous John Lewis Christmas Advert. The two-and-a-half minute advert follows a dragon who, in his festive excitement, rampages around with a little girl called Ava accidentally burning and melting things with fire. After destroying a snowman, jeopardising an ice-skating session and ruining the dressing of the village Christmas tree, a distraught Edgar shuts himself away to prevent more upset for the community. Fortunately for the animated fire-breather, his human best friend is on hand to save the day with the convenient gift of a delicious Christmas pudding – a thoughtful and true act of kindness.
Wednesday this week was Kindness Day. A display in school encouraged children to show a random act of kindness and record it. These ranged from helping somebody to Matron or giving her sister a hug to helping another child with their kit. I see acts of kindness daily around the school and it is by acknowledging them explicitly that children learn the impact of their actions on others. As a school we are committed to building successful adult lives for our children and kindness plays a huge part in this.