How to teach children kindness
The Great Mentos and Coke Experiment
Children have a kindness button sewn into them. This may be debated by some, but I have found that children innately understand what kindness is and how it feels. This is called empathy. Take the famous Special Olympics image of the young athlete who fell down, only to have the entire team of runners come to his aid, link arms and cross the finish line together. No one taught them to do that, it's just what one does. Their act of kindness toward their fellow athlete was the result of empathy.
Children are also very visual and concrete. When teaching them abstract concepts, such as feelings, you need to relate the concept to something they can see and understand. This is called association. Children often "feel" things to learn them. If you can attach what they are feeling, to something they can see, it has a tendency to stick with them.
This makes the famous Mentos and Coke experiment perfect for teaching the idea that acts of kindness can make a huge impact in the lives of others.
When I teach this lesson, I refer to the coke as being like your heart and the mento like an act of kindness. When someone is kind to you, your heart overflows with happiness, just like the way the coke overflows when we put candy in it. Children can relate to this because it's a feeling they've all had, and they all know that candy is a special treat that makes you happy. Not only do children love the dramatic, messy explosion, they can visually identify with a concept that they would otherwise, only feel.
You can show this video in class and encourage your students to do it at home with their parents. This will create a powerful association of how one small act of kindness can affect others in an explosive way. Finish your discussion with ways students can show acts of kindness. Enjoy!
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