We teach our kids kindness by modelling kindness ourselves, talking to them about kindness, and praising them when we catch them being kind. We can also teach it with fuzzy pom-pom balls.
One teacher shared with Edutopia that when she added a Kindness Jar and a pile of pom-poms to her classroom, her students began arguing less, helping each other more and the classroom atmosphere overall became more peaceful. Whenever a student does something kind, such as sharing, passing out papers or saying something nice to a classmate, they can put a pom-pom in the jar.
When the jar is full, the class will get a special treat or play a game to celebrate:
This is a strategy you can try at home and it doesn’t have to be limited specifically to reinforcing kindness. You can use it for any positive behaviour you’re looking to encourage. Think of it as a warmer, fuzzier version of the sticker chart, which can get old after all that potty training.
When my son was 4 years old and my then-foster son was 3, I became sick of the sound of my own voice repeating the same directions over and over. I created a pom-pom jar very similar to this to encourage listening and following directions. Those boys ran for pom-poms every time they cleaned up their toys, put on their shoes or brushed their teeth the first time I asked.
A big part of the fun for them that I didn’t anticipate was picking out which colour pom-pom they would choose. That was not a decision they took lightly. (Here’s a fun variety of colours online, or you can find them in any craft store.)
Pretty quickly, the jar filled up and I took us all out for ice cream. I find it’s best to include yourself in the prize. You’ve earned it, too.