Most parents grew up hearing The Golden Rule of “treat others the way you want to be treated.” Indeed, for generations parents have tried to instill kindness in their children. With popular television shows like Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street, learning things, including sharing and how to be kind, through children’s programming isn’t a new concept.
These days, children have the added bonus of interactive apps that teach kindness and emotional intelligence, possibly laying a foundation for a more empathetic generation.
Can an app really teach kids to be kind
Although nothing stands in for an adult role model who teaches and models kindness and empathy in real time, apps and interactive games can provide a foundation for emotional intelligence. Teachers, parents, and other adults who surround children can model compassion and kindness, but kids of this generation are likely to pay close attention to their devices as well.
Apps that teach social cues help younger children understand what it looks like when someone is sad, happy, or angry. The idea is that, after playing with the app, when your child’s friend appears angry, it’s easier for your child to make the connection from their game to the face their friend is making. Then, maybe they’ll even make a connection to their own emotions.
Some great apps for teaching youngsters about emotions: Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings, Positive Penguins, The Mood Meter and Avokiddo Emotions.
What about older kids?
Older kids usually enjoy a challenge and that’s why The Great Kindness Challenge can work well for them. In this fun checklist-style app, your family chooses to complete 50 acts of kindness over a period of time. The app is intended to promote kindness in communities and even has a classroom version. Sit With Us teaches kindness through inclusion. Developed by a teenager who endured school bullying, this app is aimed at making school cafeterias more welcome places. And to combat cyberbullying, Rethink, developed by a 13-year-old, helps kids realize when they’ve overstepped and sends alerts like “Would you like to re-word this? Remember, you are what you type!” when it detects possible hurtful language.
Meditation for the win
One way to get kids of all ages to board the kindness train is to help them understand the meaning of compassion. Meditation apps instill the benefits of stress reduction and feelings of calm in a child as well as an aptitude for loving kindness and compassion. Kids who meditate obtain a more consistent mood and focus and, let’s face it, it’s easier to be kind when you feel healthy in your mind and body. Kids can try Stop Breathe Think and Head Space to meditate.
Kindness is an important attribute in today’s society. Teaching emotional intelligence, empathy, and compassion gives our kids a leg up in a world that desperately needs their unique brand of kindness.