As soon as our eyes open in the morning, most of us — healthy or not — reach over to our bedside table and grab our phones. When we unlock our screens, we are instantly bombarded with bad news, whether from scrolling social media or the alerts from news websites. Some days, it just feels like things are getting worse by the minute, and there’s no good or kindness left in the world. And soon, you’re doom-scrolling again. What should we do, especially as parents, to help ensure the world is still a wonderful place to be? It all starts at home by teaching our children about random acts of kindness. I firmly believe if everyone were just a little kinder and a bit more empathetic, we’d be in a much better place.
I’m thankful to my parents for instilling these qualities in me since I was a young child. For example, at my karate studio, we would deliver Thanksgiving dinners to families in need around our neighborhood on Thanksgiving Eve so they’d have food to cook and share with family. It’s one of my fondest childhood memories, and I believe it lit the spark for philanthropy inside of me that I still carry to this day.
While you don’t have to do something as elaborate as delivering entire Thanksgiving dinners with your kids, you can definitely do little things for family, friends, teachers/classmates, neighbors, and your community every single day. This helps teach your kids valuable life lessons, shaping them into the people they will become. These 100 random acts of kindness don’t take a ton of effort on your part, and most of them are free. But the way they’ll make others feel is absolutely priceless. And not only will others benefit from your kindness, but your kids will benefit, too.
Random Acts of Kindness for Kids are Important
According to Kaitlin Soule, LMFT, it’s important for children to learn random acts of kindness for many reasons, but mostly because they get to experience the energy and positive feelings we get for doing something good for others. “We can talk to kids about ‘being kind’ until we’re blue in the face, but kids learn best through modeling and hands-on experiences,” she says. “If they see us doing kind things for others — just for the sake of being kind — they will start to want to do the same. Once they start to move through the world in ways that are kind and giving, they will encourage their siblings, classmates, and friends to do the same — it’s a beautiful ripple effect,” Soule says.
Soule says that participating in random acts of kindness will also help shape kids into the people they’ll become. “Participating in random acts of kindness is widely shown to increase mood and a sense of gratitude. Being able to have and express gratitude is one of the key ingredients to psychological wellness,” she says. “And if we can teach our kids this key ingredient young, we are being of great service to them and the world,” says Soule.
Random Acts of Kindness Ideas
Many of these random acts of kindness ideas can be used across all categories. Baking some cookies for a neighbor? Bake some extra for your child’s class. Helping a parent with yard work? Offer to help mow the neighbor’s lawn across the street as well. No matter who you’re helping with a random act of kindness, you’ll be sure to put a smile on their face (or a wag in their tail, as the case may be). So check out this list of more than 100 random acts of kindness showing that the Daniel Tiger song holds a lot of truth: “There are many ways to say I love you. There are many ways to say I care about you. Many ways, many ways, so many ways to say, I love you.” Can you tell we are a Daniel Tiger family? We can all learn a lot from Daniel Tiger, honestly.
Random Acts of Kindness for Family
Call your grandparents and ask them about their childhood.
I don’t know of a grandparent who doesn’t love to talk to their grandchildren or great-grandchildren and ask them to reminisce about “the good old days.” You’ll make their week.
Do a chore for a family member and don’t tell them.
Okay, okay. Your kid can maybe tell them after they’re done if you’re excited to share. Or it could be fun to see if they notice. Like on Daniel Tiger, when they’re talking about doing something kind for your neighbors and Daniel waters his mom’s sunflowers for her. He can hardly stand to wait for her to notice.
Wash the family car.
This is a fun thing to do for a summertime activity. As we all know, cars can definitely get dirty when kids are involved (or if you don’t have a garage). Not only would you and your kid be doing something kind for the family, but it would be a great way to stay cool and screen-free on a summer afternoon.
Make a craft for someone in the family.
Make someone’s day by having your child make a craft for someone in the family for no rhyme or reason other than to say, “I love you.”
Do a task that someone hates doing.
Everyone has that one task they hate doing. Whether it’s doing the dishes, vacuuming, cleaning toilets, folding laundry, or some other chore, there’s always one that gets neglected. Have your child help you do one of these tasks for your partner or another family member. Who knows? Maybe they’ll return the favor.
Make breakfast in bed.
However, the very, very important key to this act of kindness is cleaning up the kitchen afterward. The worst is when the kids make you breakfast in bed, and after you’ve enjoyed your burned pancakes that were so lovingly made, you have a kitchen disaster.
Set the table for dinner.
Since someone took the time to plan, shop for, and cook this meal where everyone sits down together, it would be nice to go ahead and set the table before dinner is ready. That way, it’s one less thing for the cook to do.
Brush all the pets’ fur.
Maybe this one will only work at my house with all of our animals, but ensuring there are fewer tumbleweeds of hair blowing around is a huge act of kindness in my book. Plus, the brushing feels good for the animals, and it shows them kindness as well.
Plan a special menu featuring everyone’s favorite food.
Obviously, a parent will have to help with this one, but what a fun meal to have — especially if everyone’s favorite food happens to be takeout or something simple to make. Plus, the cook in the family also gets a break.
Make a card for someone.
You don’t have to have a special occasion to do this. This is even more special if the kid makes it entirely themselves. Those are the best gifts.
Plan a special day for the family.
Plan something that everyone in the family enjoys, and try to fit it into one day. Or, you can take it a step further and plan special days for each family member individually.
Make a special pizza with everyone’s favorite toppings.
The beauty of making your pizza at home is not only is it super fun, but you can customize each slice without breaking the bank. Make an extra large pie with everyone’s favorite toppings on their pieces and maybe even have a living room picnic while eating it together.
Dust the house.
Trust me. Nobody likes dusting the house. If your child does this, they’ll automatically be deemed your favorite kid. And also, it’s something incredibly kind to do where everyone benefits from a clean house.
Make all the beds.
So simple. So effective. Making the bed definitely sets the tone for the day, and if someone else does it, well, that makes the day even better.
Help with laundry.
Without being asked, see if your kid can pick a day to help the laundry doer in your home sort, fold, put away, or even toss the laundry in the washer and dryer.
Help with dishes.
This is everyone’s least favorite chore in our house (other than scooping the litter box). If your kid helps put away dishes, that will certainly be an act of kindness.
Clean the toilets.
Another chore nobody likes to do. How nice is sitting on a clean toilet while hiding from the kids on your phone?
Plan a special movie night.
Grab the family favorite and everyone’s go-to snacks. Snuggle up on the couch with the entire fam and have popcorn, candy, and your favorite beverage. It’s even better if the kiddos plan it and execute everything. We all know they know how to work the Blu-Ray or streaming service from a device, and I’m sure they can figure out how to pop some popcorn.
Walk the dog.
This requires adult supervision, of course. Not only is this a random act of kindness for whoever’s chore this is, but it’s also kind to the dog’s family member. I can guarantee they’ll appreciate it.
Record a special “I love you” video on your phone and send it to everyone.
This random act of kindness is fun and also a memorable keepsake. I used to make cassette tape recordings for my parents (I’m an ancient millennial), and they still have them to this day. Part embarrassing, part sweet, but definitely an act of kindness for the parents or grandparents.
Random Acts of Kindness for Friends
Leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep.
You’ll make your child’s friends’ day when they find bubbles on their doorstep from you. Kids love bubbles, and they’ll love this random act of kindness.
Tell someone why they are special to you.
It is so important to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. You never know when it will be the last time, and it’s important for your kids to learn how to express their feelings and show kindness by telling someone how much they care about them. This is not only a random act of kindness but an important life skill to learn that they can take with them into adulthood.
Send them a handwritten letter.
Kids may get a kick out of handwriting a letter and sending it (gasp) via snail mail to their friends instead of an email, text, Snapchat, or whatever the kids are doing these days. Plus, the other friend can keep it and even return the note. Pen pals.
Invite a friend over for homemade treats.
Everyone wins with this random act of kindness. You get to spend time with your kids baking together, everyone sees their friends, and you all get to enjoy some yummy treats. Delicious.
Send a care package.
This can mean so much and is a simple, sweet gesture and random act of kindness. It can be a candle, some snacks, bubble bath soap, a card, or even a mixed CD for someone who may be down in the dumps. This will be a much-needed pick-me-up.
How sweet is it to receive flowers just because? It’s an act of kindness because it’ll brighten someone’s day no matter what. Even if they’re already having a good day, it will turn it into a great day.
You usually can’t go wrong with food. Especially dessert. Who doesn’t love a random gift of homemade cookies?
Walk your friend’s dog.
If they’re going out of town, offer for you and your child to walk their dog and take care of it while they’re gone — for free. This random act of kindness will also be a good teaching moment about responsibility and caring for another creature.
Make a curated playlist of songs that make you think of them.
The best gift is the gift of music. I remember sharing mixed CDs with my crushes and best friends, and I would wait hours to download the songs and then even longer for them to burn on a CD. It’s easier now since you can curate a list on Spotify or iTunes and share it with them electronically. Still, this is something thoughtful and kind to do, nonetheless.
Take a friend out for ice cream.
Okay, this works even if they’re not having a bad day. Not only do they get to spend time with your child and talk/play, but they get ice cream. It’s a win-win.
Simple. Free. The perfect random act of kindness. Hugs usually make everything better.
Paint them a picture.
All the kids in my 4-year-old son’s Montessori school paint each other pictures. It’s the most adorable thing, and my son hangs them on the wall by his bed. It makes him smile when he receives these from a friend, and I bet your child’s friend smiles, too.
Give your favorite book to your friend.
Sharing the gift of your favorite book is such a special and personal random act of kindness. Bonus points if there are notes in the margins or a personalized note from your kid to their friend. Perhaps, they’ll pass it on to someone else and share the gift of literature.
Make friendship bracelets.
This was the ultimate act of kindness and bond back when I was a kid. We’d have thousands of little packs of strings in all different colors. It was so fun to braid, knot, and twist them into beautiful creations for our friends. That way, whenever they look down at their wrist, they’ll know they’re loved and are special to your child.
Donate to a friend’s favorite charity.
This random act of kindness is a big one. Many families are doing this for birthday parties now in place of gifts. Not only is it a random act of kindness for your friend because they’ll be so happy to hear you donated to something they believed in, but it’s obviously kind for the charity, too.
Put your phone away when you’re hanging out with them.
So, so important. Make sure you also model this random act of kindness when you’re around your children, your friends, and your children’s friends. Being present is so needed and validates the other people you’re spending time with.
Help someone try something new.
If the friend is scared of rock climbing but really wants to try it, set up a time for everyone to go together. The cheerleading and camaraderie will make the event less stressful, and they get to try something new.
Tell them what makes them special.
We all need a little pick-me-up sometimes, and it’s so nice to hear from our friends why they think we’re awesome. Have your child do this often. You never know how this small random act of kindness will impact someone else.
Share your favorite recipe with a friend and bring them a sample.
Food is always a good idea. Send a handwritten recipe to a friend and a sample for them to “taste test” before diving in. Not only do they have a meal ready to eat thanks to your sample, but they’ll have the recipe to add to their rotation to make over and over again.
Random Acts of Kindness for Neighbors
Bake dessert for a neighbor.
Maybe a quick drop, ring, and dash with a note on top would be fun. Kids will have fun helping you bake these desserts before dropping them off at a neighbor’s house. Perhaps they’d enjoy some of the delicious leftovers as well.
Teach your child to wave at neighbors.
It’s friendly, and it’s free. Simply feeling noticed is something incredibly important to people. Your child will show they notice and they cared enough to wave hello.
Check on an elderly neighbor.
Trust me. They’ll appreciate the company even if they don’t need to be checked on. Some elderly neighbors live alone and don’t have family nearby, so they’ll appreciate you checking in. They may even really love kids and miss their grandchildren (or great-grandchildren), so they’ll love seeing your child.
Drop off some flowers on your neighbor’s front porch.
This is similar to dropping off the dessert but less tasty. However, it is still a very sweet gesture. Have your child make a handmade card to go along with the flowers. It will be the perfect random act of kindness.
Do yard work for an elderly neighbor.
Either you can model this behavior or have your older children offer to take over. If you have an elderly neighbor needing help mowing, raking, weed-pulling, or watering their plants, this is something kind you can do. Do this for free, of course. I know they’ll appreciate it.
Pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor.
Ask your neighbor for their weekly grocery list and run to the store for them. Many elderly people don’t have smartphones, making it difficult for them to order groceries. This will make their entire week, no doubt.
Go to the neighborhood coffee shop and leave cash to pay for the next person’s order.
Apparently, some baristas don’t like the pay it forward phenomenon, so do the next best thing at your local coffee shop and leave a gift card or cash for folks to pay for their orders.1 That way, all the employee has to do is swipe the gift card until it runs out. You’ll make someone’s day when they show up at your local neighborhood coffee shop and find out their order is taken care of.
Bring toys to a local women’s and children’s shelter.
Many women flee abusive situations with nothing but their children and the clothes on their backs. That means no toys for the kids to play with to find comfort during a stressful situation. Have your kids pick out toys to donate instead of you doing it for them. It will impact them a lot more this way.
Read a book to an elderly neighbor.
I used to do this in second grade, and my neighbor loved it. They couldn’t see very well and loved books and stories, so they dearly missed reading. This was before the invention of audible or audiobooks. So, I would go over every Tuesday afternoon and read books to him. He said it was the highlight of his week, and I got to read the unabridged versions of The Wizard of Oz and Little Women. Everyone had fun.
Leave a nice note on a neighbor’s car.
Sure, they may be scared that it’s a note saying someone dinged their car and left their contact information. But once they see a sweet note from a child saying, “have a nice day,” they’ll sing a different tune.
Pick up litter at the neighborhood park.
Your neighbors and the animals surrounding the park will thank you. It’s a great teaching moment about keeping things cleaner than you left them. It also shows the importance of respecting public places while doing something very kind for the community.
Leave seed packets, a pot, and soil on your neighbor’s doorstep.
I would love it if someone did this for me. Something about plants just makes me smile, and I know it would also make one of your neighbors happy. Leave a cute note with it and see their faces light up when they open their door and see such a pleasant surprise.
Make dinner for a neighbor in need.
If they’ve lost a family member or pet recently, are down on their luck, just had a baby, or maybe had a bad day, a home-cooked meal from you and your kids will bring a smile to their face.
Babysit for free.
Older kids can offer to babysit for free, so the parents can get a break and not break the bank. The gesture is so lovely. Who knows? It could turn into a paying gig at some point. But for now, it’s very kind to offer their time for free.
Leave a gift card for a nearby local shop in their mailbox.
Run to the local mom and pop shop, grab a gift card, and stick it either in their mailbox, on their porch, or nestled into the crack of their door. Not only is it a random act of kindness for the neighbor, but also the local shop for supporting their business.
Random Acts of Kindness for Teachers/Classmates
Bury treasure at the playground.
With permission from the school, of course, bury a sweet note and special toy in a box and stick a flag in there for kids to find it. They will be so excited that they have found real, buried treasure. The sweet note makes this gesture even kinder. You’ll definitely make someone’s day.
Bring your teacher flowers.
Teachers are overworked, undervalued, and underpaid. Sometimes, just something sweet and simple can brighten their day. It helps to know someone cares and appreciates them.
Talk to someone new at school.
Teach your kids to be the ones who make friends and reassure kids. It’s never fun being the new kid. It can be downright scary and stressful. It helps when someone kind reaches out and offers a hand or an ear for listening.
Become friends with the kid who is bullied.
This is so important. You never know when someone has simply had enough — being bullied is traumatic. Make sure they know they’re not alone and that someone cares. Who knows? Maybe the kids doing the bullying will feel inspired by the kindness and stop being mean.
Invite the least popular kid over for a playdate and a snack.
Taking befriending the unpopular and bullied kid a bit further, invite them over to play and have a snack after school. This will help them feel included and valued.
Stay behind after school and help the teacher tidy up the classroom.
Let’s face it. Kids can destroy a classroom in just one school day. Teachers have enough to do already. Help them tidy up the room for the next day, so it’s one less thing on their to-do list.
Write your teacher a thank you note for everything they’ve done and taught you.
This can be from your kid, or you can even find a teacher who greatly impacted your life. How cool would it be for them to hear from one of their past students and find out that they’re still loved and appreciated? Showing them that they made such an impact and that they’re remembered all these years later will be impactful.
Bring a treat for everyone in the class.
Nothing beats a surprise treat during a regular school day. It doesn’t even have to be your kid’s birthday. Check with the teacher about a good time. Remember to check for allergies as well.
Offer to help tutor a younger student.
If your kid is doing great at school, speak with their teacher to see if they can help a younger student who may be struggling to grasp things. It will be nice for the younger kid to have someone closer in age they can relate to and look up to, and your child will feel good about helping someone out.
Read to the kindergarteners in the school.
I did this when I was in first grade. It was so much fun. I’d go to kindergarten classrooms and help teach them how to read while also reading them stories aloud. We all had a blast.
Put a surprise note or drawing on someone’s desk.
It could be the least popular student or just a random kid in the class. Have your child write a sweet note wishing the other child well and see how their face lights up when they find it.
Buy school supplies for a teacher.
Whether through a donation app or directly to the teacher, every little bit helps when teachers are trying to buy supplies for their classroom. Teachers pay out-of-pocket so often that it’s become expected of them. Help lighten the burden a bit.
Help someone with their homework.
Nothing is worse when you’re a kid and you can’t figure out the homework. You feel lost, alone, and irritated. Does your child have a good grasp of the topic? Have them help another student who may be struggling a bit.
Give your teacher a gift card.
This gift card doesn’t even have to be school supply related. In fact, it may be better not to make it school related. Buy them a Target or coffee gift card so they can splurge on items for themselves instead of someone else or the classroom. They deserve a treat.
Random Acts of Kindness for Your Community
Collect books for the library.
Ask your local library what books they may need more of and make a post on Facebook, or even put up signs around town and collect books for them. If they’re gently used or like new, I’m sure they’d love to take them.
Put change in a vending machine.
This sweet and simple gesture can go a long way to make someone’s day. A free soda, a bag of chips, or candy? Yes, please.
Put money on a stranger’s layaway bill.
So many stores have layaway options for the holidays, and many folks use them for other celebrations as well. Make a family’s Christmas/birthday/graduation day by putting some money toward their layaway bill so they don’t have as much to pay off. Everyone will have a very happy holiday or celebration indeed.
Tape quarters to a parking meter.
The dreaded parking meter. If there’s a parking lot you frequent that still takes quarters or change, tape some change to it for the next person. They’ll be super thankful.
Hold the door open for people.
This simple act of kindness can go a long way. And it’s so easy to do. There are so many opportunities throughout the day where you can do this for multiple people. Parents who are pushing strollers especially appreciate this.
Return abandoned carts at the store.
It really grinds people’s gears when folks leave carts all over the parking lot instead of returning them where they need to go. Help the grocery store employees (and shoppers who need a cart) out by putting them back where they need to go.
Give a treat to your bank teller.
I remember our bank teller always giving me a lollipop or giving our dog in the car a biscuit when we’d do the drive-thru. Return the favor by giving them a sweet treat.
Leave an encouraging note in a library book.
How fun would it be to read your library book and suddenly come across a sweet message from someone you’ve never met? The element of surprise makes this random act of kindness special.
Pay someone’s library book fees.
Though these fees may not seem like much, every little bit can add up. And if you pay for someone’s fees, you may be doing them a huge favor by taking a bit of that financial load off.
Let someone go ahead of you in line.
This is especially awesome in a grocery store when you have one item and the person in front of you has a full cart. You can also do this at a coffee shop or restaurant. Maybe someone is in a hurry for their coffee or dealing with unruly children in line (we’ve all been there).
Write a thank you note for your mail carrier.
Have your kids write a thank you note for your mail carrier or draw them a picture. They have a tough job and are there for us come rain or shine (or snow). Also, don’t forget to tip your mail carriers for the holidays!
Walk dogs at the animal shelter.
Many of these dogs don’t get much one-on-one time with a person, much less an entire walk outside of their cage. The shelters are maxed out and can use all the help they can get.
Send a handmade card to a service member.
In Atlanta, a local radio station used to send out handwritten cards to service members for Thanksgiving to express their gratitude. Their goal (which they always hit) was to have a card in every service member’s hand by Thanksgiving Day. You can do something similar to this on an individual scale through organizations like A Million Thanks (here) or Hugs for Soldiers (here).
Leave out snacks and drinks for your delivery drivers.
My family has done this every year, starting on Thanksgiving and going through the holiday season for the last eight years. We buy sodas, bottled water, and packs of chips, leaving them on our front porch with a note of gratitude for their hard work. They’re so thankful for the gesture.
Donate outgrown clothes.
Approximately 50% of our son’s clothing consists of hand-me-downs from coworkers and friends. We also intend to continue this tradition of kindness to our friends as long as everything remains in good condition.
Write encouraging messages on signs for your front windows.
Right at the beginning of the pandemic, when all we could do was walk around our neighborhoods while remaining six feet apart from other walkers, people took the opportunity to write encouraging messages on signs and place them in their windows so we could see them on our walks. It was so special and meant a lot, especially during such a scary and uncertain time. I think it would still be special to see it today.
Write jokes or encouraging messages on the sidewalk with chalk.
In addition to the window messages, people made tons of art with sidewalk chalk. There were pretty elaborate drawings, messages, and even jokes on the sidewalks. This would still be wonderful to see today and will still bring a smile to people’s faces.
Give up your seat on a bus or subway for someone.
If you see a pregnant person, an elderly person, or someone who looks like they need a break, give them your seat. Show your children how to be selfless with this random act of kindness, and then they’ll be the ones being kind to others on the subway as adults.
Volunteer at the food bank, animal shelter, or homeless shelter.
Food banks, animal shelters, and homeless shelters almost always need volunteers. You can sort food at the food bank, help walk dogs, clean kennels, and love on the animals in the shelter. Or, you can help serve food at a local homeless shelter. You’ll definitely make someone’s day.
Say good morning/afternoon to people and genuinely smile at folks you walk by.
This random act of kindness is so easy and simple, yet it could greatly impact someone’s day. Perhaps someone is having a rough morning and started the day off on the wrong foot. Maybe a smile and a greeting from you will turn their day around.
Donate blankets to an animal shelter.
Animal shelters are always full, unfortunately. If you can’t adopt or foster a pet, they could always use blankets. These blankets not only keep the animals warm but can also provide comfort in a crowded shelter. Maybe the blankets will make their cages feel a bit more like a home.
Clean up a local park.
A classic. Cleaning up a local park with your family will not only create a much better environment for you to have playtime, but it will teach your kids about taking care of the environment. Additionally, it will teach them the importance of always leaving things better than you found them.
Bake cookies for firefighters.
Bake cookies together as a family and deliver them personally to the firehouse. If you’d rather make a meal, check if your local fire station has a sign-up sheet for neighbors to bring lunches and dinners. Our neighborhood has one, and everyone rotates bringing a meal for our firehouse.
Make handmade cards for EMTs.
Being an EMT is a tough and sometimes very thankless job. They’d be delighted to receive handmade cards from your kids telling them how much they’re appreciated.
Adopt a pet from a shelter.
As long as you and your family are ready and willing for a commitment that lasts at least 8-to-14 years, check out your local animal shelter or pet rescue group. So many animals need homes, and shelters are constantly running out of space for all these poor animals.
Visit the local nursing home.
Check out local adopt-a-grandparent programs in your area here, or just call your local nursing home or senior living community and ask if you could schedule a time to visit with some of the seniors who may not have family nearby. Being able to share stories with a child or having someone young and fresh to talk to will make their day.
Run a lemonade stand and donate profits to a charity.
This old-school idea becomes even better when all the proceeds are donated to charity as a random act of kindness. Another act of kindness would be offering lemonade for free to those passing by.
Leave kindness rocks around town.
This one is so much fun because it also serves as a fun, family-bonding arts and crafts activity. Grab some rocks and sit down together as a family. Write out encouraging messages on them. If your children can’t write yet, even a drawing of a sun or heart can go a long way to make someone’s day.
Help a senior cross the street.
If you and your child see a senior citizen trying to cross who is unsteady, offer them an arm or a hand. Bonus points if you offer to carry their groceries or bags if they have them.
Hand out Gatorade and water to the sanitation workers.
I can guarantee they’ll appreciate this a lot. Their job is super hard work, especially during the winter or summer when it’s extremely cold or hot. The extra hydration and electrolytes will be much needed.
While this list of random acts of kindness may seem all-inclusive, just know that there are many other ways in which you can show a little kindness to someone in their day. Some of these ideas may seem small, but I guarantee their impact on the receiver will be huge. It’s incredible what spreading a little kindness can do for those around you and for you and your kids. You’ll be surprised at the ripple effects you experience by doing something kind, no matter how random it may seem!