What’s In It For Me?

What’s in it for me? That’s the question most children (and a lot of adults) find themselves asking before performing a given task. It’s a simple fact: people like to be rewarded, or at least noticed for their efforts. That’s what makes random acts of kindness so special. It’s also what makes them so hard to explain, especially if you happen to be explaining them to a child.

Quite often children with social skills disorders have difficulty considering other people’s wants and needs. So talking to them about other people and how to make them happy can help them learn to consider others.

With February 10th kicking off Random Acts of Kindness Week, we thought we’d offer some advice on how to talk to your child about giving even when nothing is expected in return.

  • Don’t overlook the little things: Help your child to understand that acts of kindness don’t have to be big and showy, and may not even require a lot of money. Try talking about the importance of simple things, like paying someone a compliment or comforting a friend who is upset. By doing this, you can show that kindness isn’t something reserved for millionaires who can give away cars to hundreds of people on TV. It’s something that everyone can practice, regardless of how old they are, or what they have to give.
  • Make it personal: Knowing about the cause you’re impacting is a great way to make an act of kindness more meaningful. Say you choose to make a donation of food or clothing to a local shelter. Why not bring your child along for the delivery? If that’s not possible, do your research on the shelter and talk to your child about what you learned. Understanding why their act of kindness is important and who it will help can make it easier for a child to become invested.
  • Share your experiences: A lecture may not be necessary, but it is helpful for you to point out the ways that you give to others in your every day life. Let your child know when you bring soup to a sick friend, or donate books to the local library. Let your child see you as a kindness role model, so they may want to follow your example.

Whether you choose to honor this week with small gestures or large ones, we hope you’ll help your children understand the importance of being kind to others, and find some new ways to make kindness a part of your family’s routine this week and beyond.


Isa Marrs is the Founder and Executive Director of the Where I Can Be Me® social skills program. She is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in pragmatic language (social skills) disorders in children. Read More