Back in December we covered how holiday stress can affect teens. One of the ideas that was mentioned as a stress reliever for teens was to partake in random acts of kindness. This is a great idea, with Random Acts of Kindness Week coming up next week during February 14th-20th, teens can continue to spread the kindness. The purpose of this special week is to urge everyone to be kind to each other and especially to be kind for no reason at all. Random acts of kindness or RAKs can be done any day of the week and numerous amounts of times, there is no limit on showing kindness to others! RAKs are selfless acts performed to either assist someone in need or to cheer up a person and make them smile. The driving force behind RAKs is having a selfless concern for the welfare of others. Selflessness focuses on doing good without receiving a reward in return.
The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has put together a very comprehensive website with resources for teens that want to learn more about how kindness affects the world. The RAK Foundation thinks that kindness is a science and that it should be studied very carefully. They have posted studies on kindness and how it can make a difference for teens in their attitudes toward others and how RAKs affect those who receive such kindness.
The RAK Foundation has listed many articles that talk about how kindness helps reduce stress with emphasis on how kindness should be taught to young adults. Stage of Life, a site that is dedicated to helping teens shares the experiences and thoughts on the different stages in their lives asked 344 teens to complete a national survey about RAKs. The survey data displayed staggering results that teens who perform RAKs often find that it reduces stress and boosts their self-esteem. This is excellent news because reducing stress also leads to better physical and emotional health.
Stage of Life’s statistics revealed:
- 96.5% of teens have performed a random act of kindness
- 88% of teens have been on the receiving end of a random act of kindness
- 85% wanted to pass the kindness to someone else
- 56% teenagers that had performed a random act of kindness have done so more than 7 times
It’s evident that as teens continue to perform RAKs for others they will want to continue because of the great feeling it gives them to dole out kindness. There are a plethora of things that teens can do to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness Week. There are many things that can be done to brighten someone’s day for free. Just think about how great it would be if everyone took time to make someone smile. The kindness could go on and on. Let’s encourage teens to take part in RAK Week and get the ball rolling! Help them be creative and come up with some awesome ideas. When it comes to kindness, there’s no limit to the number of ways you can make a difference in someone’s life. Here are some fun ideas:
- At a drive-thru pay or toll bridge for the person behind you
- At the gas station offer to pump gas for someone
- At the grocery store buy some supplies for the local food bank or animal shelter
- Around the neighborhood rake the yard or cut the grass for an elderly neighbor
- Visit someone in the hospital or make a meal for a family dealing with illness
Here is a list of teen realistic fiction books that focus on teens having compassion and kindness for others and how that affects their lives and the lives of others.
Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – A terrible incident with her school friends disrupts fourteen-year-old Audrey’s life. She is ridden with anxiety and hides in her house at all times wearing dark sunglasses as a shield against her fears. She meets with her therapist Dr. Sarah and wonders what the meetings will do to help her. When she meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate Audrey feels a sense of relief come over her. Linus has a wonderful smile and a deep warm and caring disposition. They begin their friendship through writing notes back and forth. Linus brings such kindness and sweetness to the crazy upside down life that Audrey is trying to deal with and he soothes her anxiety with his delightful smile.
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli 2001 Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults – When Stargirl Caraway arrives at Mica High as the new girl it’s obvious that she’s not like any other girl. She dresses differently and acts the opposite of the norm, which creates various catalysts for change. Are these changes for the greater good? Leo Bolstruck may have an idea of how Stargirl has changed his own point of view and his opinion on love. Stargirl jumpstarts her classmates and when they notice her, it takes her from zero to hero with mass popularity and then back down to zero again, which is very traumatic for Stargirl and Leo. Stargirl is a classic story about bullying and how some can overcome the fear of peer pressure and stand up for others by using kindness and consideration. This is truly a compelling story about an amazing girl and a kindhearted boy who must choose between his friends or be true to himself and act on his feelings for Stargirl.
I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak 2006 Michael L. Printz Honor – Ed Kennedy is a 19-year old cab driver who lives in a tiny little shack with his smelly 17-year old dog named the Doorman. Ed’s life is boring and insignificant as he struggles with daily issues of being in love with his best friend Audrey and hanging out playing cards. One day Ed’s life changes forever when he is faced with a decision while accidentally walking into a bank robbery. Ed becomes a hero when he points a gun at the incompetent robber and that’s when his life of redemption starts. He begins to receive assignments from an anonymous person. Hesitant to pursue the assignments, he realizes he’s been chosen to care, to be kind, and to act as a protector for those that can’t protect themselves. This story is fantastic and as it progresses Ed transforms into a real hero and the changes he makes in his life and in others lives are quite memorable.
How to Save a Life by Sarah Zarr 2012 Teens Top Ten Best Books Nominee – This powerful YA novel packs a lot in the kindness and compassion department. It’s about a family that is hurting and through that hurt and pain they reach out to a teen girl who is hurting internally in her own way. 17-year old Jill is dealing with the recent death of her dad, and her mom Robin is trying to move on with her life, but feels that there is something missing. Robin reaches out to young mother to-be Mandy who in turn fills a void in both Robin and Jill’s lives even though Jill might not be willing to admit it at first. Zarr is incredible at relaying true feelings and emotions that run deep with teen angst. How to Save a Life is a story of hope, kindness, and resiliency and offers a fresh look at what can happen if you do something good for someone else out of the kindness of your heart.
Wonder by R.J. Palacio – Although this is more of a middle school book, it really hits home in the area of being kind and compassionate to others. 10-year-old Auggie Pullman has been homeschooled his entire life and now he is starting 5th grade at a private middle school in his neighborhood. He hopes that other students at his school will think he’s just a normal person under his disfigured face, which is an affliction he was born with. Auggie’s classmates are challenged to “be kinder than necessary” under all of the circumstances that should be an easy task, but can they really do it? This uplifting story shows readers that everyone carries some kind of stigma that makes them feel different at times, maybe not on the outside, but definitely on the inside. Auggie managed through his difficult time and it was very moving to see how kindness can change the lives of those who really need a helping hand.
— Kimberli Buckley, currently reading Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon