November 13 is more than Kindness Day, it’s a Kindness Movement. Being kind is universal, spanning across cultures, ages and genders. While I was researching this ‘holiday’, I wondered if people are inherently kind or is it something we learn. I searched the library’s EBSCOhost database to find some scientific evidence to answer that question.
What I found was a story in Time magazine about an anti-bullying program in Toronto elementary schools that used babies to help children recognize and see empathy in action. The article’s author, Maria Szalavitz, wrote:
The first stirrings of human empathy typically appear in babyhood: newborns cry upon hearing another infant's cry, and studies have shown that children as young as 14 months offer unsolicited help to adults who appear to be struggling to reach something. Babies also show a distinct preference for adults who help rather than hinder others.
Research published in the Early Childhood Education Journal states
Learning to display kindness and compassion for others is a critical and ongoing developmental process and an important part of young children’s evolving social competence.
Pauline Davey Zeece wrote an article expounding on the role of literature in the early childhood development of empathy. She provided a list of titles to share with children to help build up the kindness muscles.
My research has shown me that the best way to start a kindness movement is with the kids! Here are recommended books for growing little kind hearts:
Websites with Activities for World Kindness Day:
"Mother Teresa" by Evert Odekerken is licensed and remixed under CC BY 2.5