Teaching Social Skills with a Kindness Jar

I’m writing a bit of an off-topic post today. Off topic for dietary information, but yet sharing a great idea for your kids who struggle with social skills like “being kind just because it’s the nice thing to do.”

Yes, most children struggle with basic kindness, but those who have ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorders act impulsively without thinking through the consequences or simply don’t understand basic social skills and must be taught (like my son with Aspergers).

We started the “Kindness Jar” with our children and it worked great! Instead of falling into bad habits and letting frustration get the better of them, the kids started TRYING to be nice. It was, of course, obvious and intentional – but good habits have to start somewhere!

All you need is an empty jar and something to fill it, such as dried beans, marbles, small rocks, etc…

The rules:

  1. When someone says or does something nice, put in one bean.
  2. When someone says or does something unkind or hurtful, take out two beans.
  3. Have a goal. For example, a family outing or movie night when it gets full. Just so they actually want to fill it up!

It’s that simple!

Thanks to another mom’s blog post I found via Twitter on “Quirky Momma: Kids Activities Blog,” I was inspired to write this post here.

We were taking out one bean for the negative words and actions, but I loved her reasoning for removing two:

The twist to take the beans out was added to show them that unkindness does a lot more damage than one small act of kindness.  And that it takes a pattern of acting in love, to build up something big, like character.

Let me know what you think! Have you tried this before or has something else worked great for you?

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