50 Acts of Kindness for Kids to Do to Make the World a Better Place

Kids may be little but they can make a big difference in the world, just by doing these simple acts of service.

Reader’s Digest is seeking stories of random acts of kindness that you’ve witnessed in your community for our search for the Nicest Places in America.

Random acts of kindness may sound simple but in our increasingly hostile and mistrusting world, they’re almost a revolutionary act. Showing kindness requires courage, honesty, and thinking outside the box. It’s worth it: These small acts of service and random acts of kindness for kids can make a huge difference, for both the giver and the receiver. And that’s true whether you’re nine or 99.

Children are naturals when it comes to doing little acts of kindness, in fact, many of us adults take our cues from them! But sometimes they need a little extra nudge to think about others. Whether it’s showing kindness to their families, friends, communities, animals, or the planet, we’ve got thoughtful ideas for kindhearted kiddos of every age.

Decorate lunch bags for the food pantry

Many community kitchens and food pantries serve meals in paper bags or boxes to go. Kids can write kind messages, draw pictures (with non-toxic markers), and decorate them with stickers. This is just one beautiful example of the stories of kindness.

Make a friendship bracelet

Do a kindness craft with letter beads, spelling out a sweet message like “I love you” “best friend” or “peace.” Kids can make a bracelet to wear and one to share with a new friend or a family member.

Put grocery carts back in the corral

Put some of that boundless energy to good use by having children retrieve rogue grocery carts left on sidewalks, in handicapped parking spots, or at the edges, and return them to the store or the cart corral. Service doesn’t need to be elaborate, like these small acts of kindness.

Write a pen pal

Writing—via paper or electronically—to a penpal in another place is a great way for kids to learn social skills, learn about other cultures and practice writing. Talk to your child’s teacher, a local community center, or participate in the Flat Stanley project.

Leave five kind comments on social media

Everyone loves getting happy messages on social media, so this is an easy random act of kindness for kids to get your child on board with. Older kids with social media accounts can like and leave a positive, supportive comment on a friend or family member’s post. Encourage them to reach outside of their normal circle (safely) to include others who may be feeling ignored or left out. As always, monitor your kids’ social media activity closely.

Cute schoolgirl smiling & balancing stack of books on the head at libraryKlaus Vedfelt/Getty Images

Donate old books

Have your child go through their gently loved books and choose some that they’ve outgrown to donate to a local library, community center, shelter, church, or school. Here are some more powerful ways to give to charity without breaking the bank.

Make a pinecone bird feeder

This random act of kindness for kids is intended to help mother nature. Take a pinecone, cover it in peanut butter, roll it in birdseed, and hang it from a nearby tree. Birds will enjoy the treat, particularly in the wintertime, and you can use it to teach your kiddo about the different types of wildlife in your area.

Take a neighbor’s newspaper or package up to their porch

Newspapers, packages, and other items often get left at the end of the driveway or on lawns putting them at risk of getting soggy or stolen. Kids can gently move them to a safe spot on the porch.

Eat lunch with someone who normally eats alone

Nearly everyone has a painful memory of eating alone in the school cafeteria. Teach your child to look for those who may be left out and kindly invite them to eat with them or join them at their table. Check out some more tiny ways to encourage your kids every day.

Send a get-well card

These days, unfortunately, there are more sick people than ever. Have your child make and send a get-well card to a loved one who isn’t feeling well or make a batch to drop off at the local hospital.

Make a snack basket for delivery people

Online orders are way up and delivery folks are busier than ever. Help your child choose appropriate items—think bottled water or juice, granola bars, or prepackaged goodies—and make a basket with a sign letting delivery drivers know they’re welcome to take a snack for the road.

Text someone a funny meme

Are you always telling your kid to get off their phone? Put their love of tech to good use by having them text a funny meme to a family member. (Just make sure it’s appropriate!) It’s a quick way to put a smile on someone’s face. Need ideas? These kindness memes are perfect for passing on.

child cleans snow in the yardEvgeniiAnd/Getty Images

Shovel the sidewalk

Kids in snowy climes can shovel a neighbor’s driveway or sidewalk. In warmer weather, kids can rake leaves, offer to bag yard waste, or another small outside chore that may feel hard for someone who is elderly, disabled, pregnant, or overwhelmed.

Write happy sticky notes

Give your child a stack of sticky notes and some markers and let them fill the pad with happy pictures, kind messages, and compliments. Take the sticky pad with you during the day and let them put the notes where it can brighten someone’s day, like on a public bathroom mirror, on a shelf at the store, on a car window, or a sibling’s pillow.

Leave a basket of tennis balls or sticks at the dog park

Make a dog’s day (and their owner’s too!) by having your child collect old tennis balls or perfect throwing sticks and placing them in a bin for everyone to enjoy.

Make cards or drawings for a nearby retirement home

Many people in retirement homes feel isolated and the pandemic only made that a hundred times worse. Have kids draw pictures, make paintings, or write notes and deliver them to the elderly.

Help the teacher put up chairs

Teachers do so much work outside of their normal classroom hours. One way kids can say thanks is to offer to help with some of those little things. Even very young kids can help pick up trash, stack chairs, put away supplies, or whatever their teacher needs.

Group of volunteering children collecting garbage in a parkWestend61/Getty Images

Pick up litter at a local park

Make it a game by creating a scavenger hunt list—a soda can, a candy wrapper, a fast-food bag—and see how fast your child can find them all. Check out lots more ways you and your kids can help save the planet in five minutes or less.

Give someone a compliment

Learning how to give a kind, sincere compliment is a skill—and now is the perfect time for your child to practice. Start with one of these 10 little compliments you should be giving every day.

Write or draw a thank-you card for a service worker

Pick a local teacher, cashier, bus driver, or other worker who helps you and your child on a regular basis and write them a sweet thank-you note. Go as simple or elaborate (glitter!) as your child likes. Hand deliver the note for extra smiles.

Do a chore for a sibling

Doing a small chore for a brother or sister is an easy way to show kindness, particularly if they are having a bad day. It can also increase that loving sibling bond. Check out these 19 compassionate quotes that will inspire kindness.

Plant wildflowers

Many community gardens or nature centers have packets of local seeds or at least suggestions of what to plant. Teach children about showing kindness to the environment through planting and nurturing wildlife.

Toddlers looking into oven at baking cookiesCavan Images/Getty Images

Make cookies for a neighbor

Kids love making and decorating cookies. Have them put a few extra on a plate to share with a neighbor or a friend. To get inspired, check out these kindness quotes by people of all ages.

Make homeless kits

Sample-sized toothpaste, shampoo, and deodorant can be put in a small Ziploc bag with a toothbrush, a comb, band-aids, or other sundry items. Children can help assemble them and hand them out to the house-less. Hygiene items being worth their weight in gold is just one of the things no one tells you about being homeless.

Give someone a “heart attack”

Have your child cut out paper hearts in various sizes and write sweet notes on them. Tape them to the door of someone who could use cheering up, then ring the doorbell and run.

Ask another child to play with them at the park

Playing Groundies or tag or make-believe is so much more fun with friends. Encourage your kiddo to pay attention to those around him or her and invite them to play too.

Hang up fallen clothes at the store

Store hangers seem particularly slippery and it’s not uncommon to see a few items piled up on the floor. Show kindness to tired retail workers by hanging a few back up. Just make sure you’re following the current COVID-19 rules in stores.

senior couple facetiming grandchildrenFly View Productions/Getty Images

Facetime a grandparent

Nothing cheers up a grandparent like seeing the sweet face of their grandchild. Littles already love calling but it may feel even more meaningful coming from an older child or teen.

Walk a dog

If you have a dog, encourage your child to take it on walks. If you don’t own one, offer to walk the dog of an elderly relative, a disabled neighbor, or a friend who’s out of town.

Make a family member’s bed

Making someone’s bed is a small kindness that can make a big difference in their day. Kids can add a note or small piece of candy on the pillow to make it extra special.

Smile

A child’s smile is one of the most precious things in the world. Teach children to do it in a safe, comfortable way but a kid’s smile can make a person’s whole day.

They're hooked to the storygradyreese/Getty Images

Read a book to a sibling or younger friend

The “reader” will love being able to share a favorite book and the listener will enjoy the attention along with the story. Parents will love that it helps kids practice their reading skills.

Collect recycling and take it to a drop-off

Tin cans and plastic bottles are easy to collect at home or at school. Then help your child take them to a nearby recycling center.

Have a used sports equipment drive

Many kids are kept out of playing sports because they can’t afford the necessary equipment while at the same time other children have garages full of old equipment they no longer use. Help your child collect and donate these items to kids in need.

Ride a bike instead of driving

Have a short errand to run? Turn it into a bike ride and show kindness to the planet by keeping the car at home. You can use it as an opportunity to discuss the importance of taking care of our environment in many little ways.

Offer to be a “mother’s helper” for an hour

Many kids love to help but aren’t old enough to babysit on their own. One solution is to allow your child to volunteer as a mother’s (or father’s) helper for you or a close loved one. The adult is still present but the child can do small chores and play with younger children to help keep them busy.

A boy hugging her motherYuji Arikawa/Getty Images

Give mom or dad a hug

A hug from your child is the ultimate kindness! It shows they are thinking about you and they love you. Here’s why hugging is so important.

Organize the plastic containers

Is your Tupperware cabinet a mess? Even very young children enjoy stacking containers and matching things by size and shape. Older kids love organizing things, especially when they get to do it their way, so encourage creativity.

Make a candy poster

A piece of poster board, some markers, and a collection of candy can be turned into a thoughtful get-well, welcome-home, congratulations, or just-because message. If you have extra treats lying around you can give them to Operation Gratitude, which sends care packages to our troops.

Refill the pet’s water dish

Another way to show kindness and love to animals is to make sure their needs are met. They can’t speak for themselves so teach your child to regularly check your pet’s food and water bowls. Or maybe even clean out the litter box!

Take dinner to an elderly neighbor

If you end up with a little extra after dinner, have your kid box up a serving or two and take it to a neighbor who could use a hot meal but may not cook it just for themselves.

Put away groceries

Children of all ages can learn about household management and show kindness to their parents by helping to shop for groceries, bring them in from the car, and put them away properly.

Senior man playing chess with his grandson (8-9), Cape Town, South AfricaBFG Images/Getty Images

Play a board game with a sibling or grandparent

Kids love to play games. Use this natural desire for fun to reach out to a sibling, a grandparent, or someone else who could use some extra love. Check out these brain-boosting games everyone will love.

Make birthday kits for kids in foster care

Children in foster care may miss out on birthday celebrations. Make sure this doesn’t happen by creating birthday kits with a cake mix, frosting, balloons, streamers, candles, and an age-appropriate toy or gift card.

Write letters to soldiers

Our troops need kindness too! Kids can write letters, draw pictures, and/or make care packages for men and women serving in the military. Or try one of these ways to help veterans through acts of kindness.

Collect and donate old blankets to a pet shelter

That comforter that is too torn or stained for human use can make the perfect bed for a dog or cat. Many shelters love getting donations of old blankets and towels but always call first to make sure.

Post a picture of something they are grateful for

Kids can show gratitude for their blessings and kindness to others by taking a picture of something beautiful or happy in their lives and either posting it to social media or texting it to a loved one.

Son with disabled father cutting vegetables in kitchenMaskot/Getty Images

Help cook dinner

Children of all ages love helping out in the kitchen. Let them plan and cook a simple age-appropriate meal or work alongside you. As their skills and confidence grow so will their ability to provide this kindness in the future.

Tell someone they did a great job

Learning to recognize someone else’s hard work, effort, and accomplishment is a true kindness. Teach kids to see and commend others for doing good things, big or small.

Use polite manners

Kids can be more polite than we often expect them to be. Saying “please” and “thank you” to both loved ones and people in the community is a simple way to show respect and kindness to others. Other kind phrases for kids may include “I’m so sorry!” and “How can I help?” Find out the daily habits of naturally polite people.

New York City firemen show their appreciation for healthcareSteve Sanchez/Pacific Press/Getty Images

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Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.