#bekind – what does kindness mean to a child

This week is mental health awareness week in the UK;  the theme is #kindnessmatters.  Following the tragic death of Caroline Flack earlier this year, kindness has been a hot topic, with t-shirts featuring the #bekind moniker and recently lots of Facebook posts asking us to be kind and not judge other people’s reaction to Covid-19.

As a small office of working mothers, we are often seeking advice from each other on the friendship issues facing our children.  

We have asked one of the children, who we are affording anonymity, what kindness means to them.  Here’s what they said.

As a child who struggles with mental health issues, kindness means a lot to me. At school we have a lot of assemblies on kindness, empathy and bullying, but it doesn’t really relate to anything outside the school hall and certainly not to anything I see online or amongst my friendship circle. I’m more of a ‘me’ person than a ‘we’ person and can often feel isolated in large groups. Kindness is not something I see a lot of amongst my friends.

At school we have a cool gang and a popular gang. Many people try and change who they are to be part of these gangs and anyone who doesn’t fit is often laughed at. I used to go through days of crying in the school bathroom and sitting alone because I didn’t fit in. These times were scary for me. I remember one particular time that really hit me (metaphorically). It started off as a normal lunch time when I found out two of my friends had had a fight. The cool gang were trying to get involved and I didn’t think this was a kind thing to do as they were shouting at the girls. I wanted to be kind and help so I asked one of the cool gang to stop but they just laughed at me. I asked them to stop laughing but they didn’t so I lost my temper. They continued laughing so I ran off crying. The teachers didn’t help just repeating the things they had said in assembly but what they said doesn’t make a difference in the playground if people are unkind to each other.

I try my best to be kind to others and to help but kindness is not something that everyone practices. Being kind to others should not be laughed at but encouraged. Being kind to others is the right thing to do and if others had understood that then the situation above may have been very different, not only to me but also to the other girls who were being shouted at. From what I can see adults need to learn to be kind to and to do the right thing for others.

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