In three months, it will be two years since COVID-19 reached our shores and changed our lives irrevocably. Whether for better or for worse, the pandemic has magnified our differences, challenged our perspectives, and revealed cracks in the fabric of our society. Yet it has also brought us together, encouraged us to re-examine our priorities, and unearthed a quality that we’d hardly associated Singaporeans with — kindness.
Two little girls aged six and 10 years old showed the way as early as February 2020, delivering food to healthcare workers fighting COVID-19 in the hospitals. In the past year and a half, many more in Singapore have similarly stepped up. But it shouldn’t — and needn’t — take a crisis of any sort to move us to kindness.
“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana
“People often think of kindness as some grand gesture but really, it is very simple. Kindness is just small acts, such as flashing a smile or holding the door. These small acts can inspire others to do the same and even inspire greater acts of kindness,” says Ms Junie Foo, Chairperson of the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM).
“A kind society is an empathetic one. When we understand and put ourselves in the shoes of others, we create a society that prioritises helping one another. Without kindness and empathy, people turn on each other in tough times. Thus, by building a kind and gracious society, we progress as a nation.”
On an individual level, there is evidence that kindness begets kindness, benefitting the giver as well. Doing acts of kindness can release feel-good hormones like oxytocin, increasing self-esteem and happiness. These also light up the pleasure centres in your brain — giving you what’s known as a “helper’s high”. So as children practice kindness, they’ll realise that doing so feels great. This can set off a ripple effect of kindness, which of course, is good for everyone!
“No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.” — Aesop.
As Rui’en and Ruirui (the two girls in the example above) demonstrate, no one is too small, and no act is too small, to be kind. Alas not all our little ones are as proactive. In fact, children are by nature egoistic and self-centred. As it turns out, they are born this way. But fret not, mum, your child will eventually learn to be less so as their prefrontal cortex matures.
In the meantime, continue to teach your child to be kind. This, together with the importance of being moral and empathetic towards others is just as important (if not more so) than academics and achievements, Ms Foo believes. “Only when our children are able to look beyond themselves and be considerate of others, can we create a kinder society,” she says.
“Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.” —Jackie Chan.
The first step? Make kindness a priority in your own life, and model it. “Before parents can teach their children about kindness, they must first be a strong role model. A parent must set an example of kindness in both word and deed,” she adds.
To this end, parents can attend SKM talks that equip them with tips on how to reinforce positive values such as kindness, graciousness, and empathy in their children, Ms Foo recommends.
Other ways to model kindness to children could also include these below. We’ve included some which are specific to the pandemic situation as well. They’re easy to do, and are great ways to get ready for World Kindness Day on 13 November!
25 Acts of Kindness that Kids can do any day
- Help out with household chores
- Donate to a void deck library
- Ask mum or dad to buy food from a local hawker who needs help
- Spend recess or lunch with someone who normally eats alone
- Make a snack basket or thank you notes for delivery people
- Give someone a compliment
- Donate to a food bank
- Hold the lift door (or any door) open for somebody
- Offer your seat in the MRT or on the bus
- Praise someone (or a few someones)
- Include someone new in games
- Do volunteer work . These are some places where kids can do volunteer work in Singapore
- Send a care pack (include a homemade card too) to someone you know who is undergoing quarantine or LOA or SHN
- Pick something up for someone. PA PAssionWaVe organises regular ‘Kayak N Klean’ and ‘Rent a Craft, Pay by Trash’ sessions where families can help clean our waterways while learning about our ecosystem.
- Give someone else a turn at the playground
- Make homemade cards for your grandparents
- Learn a few jokes and share them with others to bring laughter to their day
- Plant vegetables at home, harvest them and share them with your neighbours
- Pack extra drinks or snacks when you go to the playground, and share them with the other kids
- Clear up a mess you didn’t make
- Do a walk for charity
- Draw a picture to send to someone you love
- Paint a message or a picture on a rock and leave it for someone to find
- Help your neighbour bring recyclables to the recycling bin
- Take part in Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) programmes. With SKM’s Friend of Singa (for primary school students) and the Citizen of Kindness (for Student Care Centres) programmes, students complete different termly missions proposed by the Kindsville Times newsletters. Parents can go through what their children have done and endorse their learning by signing off the mission cards. Upon completion and submission of the mission cards (via the Kindsville Mailboxes in schools) students will receive specially curated termly mementos and a certificate of participation.
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams