#2 in Children’s Parliament’s blog series on the foundations of a rights-based childhood
Children’s human rights offer a basic standard for a life lived with dignity. When Children’s Parliament explores the realisation of rights day-to-day children talk about kindness. For children kindness means being friendly or fair to others. In the Imagining Aberdeen programme after many months of work exploring life at home, in school and in the community the messages from 300 children were distilled by them down to a list of 13 – and at no2 something very simple: Be kind to us.
Children like to be kind. It comes naturally. We have had fun at Children’s Parliament encouraging so-called random acts of kindness, doing something for others that are positive without the need for recognition or thanks. We also want children to view and experience kindness as an exchange between people, that ‘being kind’ is usually reciprocated.
Kindness is also a powerful tool to challenge cruelty. Children’s relationships can be problematic, a range of behaviours some of which we might identify as bullying can leave children hurting. The problem for the child can be that they don’t know how they got into a situation or how to get out of it. They may well view real world and online relationships between adults and young people that celebrate being nasty. We need to model and foster kindness, explicitly.
The Carnegie Trust talk about kindness as symbolic of “the power of everyday relationships”, they recognise that kindness is essential to wellbeing and to tackling isolation and loneliness, both of which impact on children as well as older people. For Children’s Parliament, kindness is a building block for every community. At Children’s Parliament, we think it helps to see children as a community, in their own right and independent of adults or setting. When children see themselves as capable, and recognise the power that comes through acting collectively, in harmony, then the realisation of rights comes one step closer.
Imagining Aberdeen https://www.childrensparliament.org.uk/our-work/imaginingaberdeen/
Carnegie UK/Joseph Rowntree Foundation publication: http://www.carnegieuktrust.org.uk/publications/kinder-communities-power-everyday-relationships/
Acts of Kindness
The Children’s Parliament Aberdeen Imagineers have been thinking about kindness and they have produced this poster to encourage kinder communities in Scotland:
Co-Director Children’s Parliament
For more information about the Children’s Parliament Investigates Bullying project, please visit: www.childrensparliament.org.uk/cpinvestigatesbullying