Children love to play ball. And most of them could benefit from a little extra practice being kind. So why not use ball games to help children practice using kind words?
You may talk about kindness when you play ball already – like by asking your child to please use a kind voice (if they shouted) or telling them to play nice (if they were not sharing). But what if you discussed using kind words before the game started?
My belief is that by intentionally using a few moments every day to teach children about positive character traits in a hands-on way, the more confidence and skills they will gain to put these values into practice during every day life.
How exactly might this work? Simply tell your child(ren) you are going to practice kindness while playing ball together. You may playfully announce a “kindness rule” that you must do everything you can to play kind: you will work together and encourage each other by speaking in a nice tone, using kind words, and cheering each other on. No grumbling if someone else wins or pouting if you think someone isn’t playing fair; when we are kind we think about the feelings of others and try to bring them joy. Kindness is the aim of the game. And it can be so much fun!
As you play, speak about being kind as many times as you like, high-fiving the kids for displaying any small act of kindness they show on their own accord and gently redirecting them if they need help. Easy and fun… and a simple way to get in more kind, encouraging words.
To make it even more exciting, visit a park or field for a fun outing of ball games together. (Don’t forget to pack some snacks and a blanket for a picnic at the end!)
Here are 10 easy ball games to play with your child while practicing kindness.
(1) Goal Kick
Place the ball on a marker (or behind a stick) and kick it into a homemade goal using sticks or rocks. (Be sure to give plenty of encouraging comments to each other as you try.)
(2) Partner Kick
Kick the ball to each other, increasing distance with repetitions. (Practice saying “Are you ready?” and “Here you go!” to play nicely, being sure not to hit the other person too hard with the ball.)
Take turns kicking the ball from a starting point to a cone/stick, and then back to the same starting point. Pass it to the next person to have a go. (Be patient waiting your turn and don’t forget to say “Thank you” when you get the ball passed to you.)
(4) Measuring Distance
Try to kick the ball as far as you can, measuring how far you can kick by placing a rock or stick where the ball landed. (Be proud of each others’ achievements instead of focusing on “winning.”)
(5) Counting Rolls
Sit across from each other and roll the ball to each other. How fast can you roll it; how many times without stopping? You may like to count as the ball goes back and forth, suggestion a number you can aim to get to such as 10, 20 or 50 depending on age. (Say “Well done!” and “Good job!” to celebrate each others’ hard work when you reach a goal number.
(6) Partner Bounce
Throw the ball to each other while standing still. Then take a step back and try adding a bounce in between. (Try to throw and bounce so that your partner can catch the ball easily; think of how to make it fun for them as this is the kind thing to do.)
(7) Partner Sing
Toss or kick the ball to one another as you sing a song, such as the ABC’s or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Can you throw/kick along with the rhythm? Can you sing and throw/kick at the same time or is it quite tricky? (Be sure not to get angry with someone if they “mess up.” Say, “That’s okay, we can try again.”)
(8) Up In The Air
Throw the ball up and then try to catch it. How high can you throw it? (Practice taking turns and kindly negotiate sharing the ball by saying, “Okay, you have five throws and then I’ll have five throws.”)
(9) Partner Carry
Face each other and put the ball between your tummies (if pairing an adult and child, the adult may need to get onto their knees). Try to hold the ball there and walk around without the ball dropping. (Work together to figure out how to meet this challenge; offering kind words such as “Let’s take three steps this way very slowly” or “Maybe if we pushed the ball into our tummies a bit more it might hold better.”)
(10) Body Roll
See if you can roll the ball all around your partner’s body (while your partner stands very still) without letting it drop on the ground. Does it tickle? (Be sure to be gentle and try to bring a smile to your partner’s face!)
What ball games do you like to play with your children? Do you think trying to practice kindness, by announcing it ahead of time, might be worth a shot?
If you liked this post, you may like to browse my other character building activities here.
I was inspired to create fun ball games for my kids after attending a bloggers’ family event put on by Baseball Queensland and Blog Power Events. This is not a sponsored post. We had so much fun playing with all sorts of balls and learning about the benefits of joining a baseball team. Gaining a positive attitude, team spirit, and physical skills are just the beginning. Baseball Queensland runs programs from T-ball to Little League,for boys and girls, from age 4 to adult, with a strict anti-bullying policy. To get more information (and find a club near you!) visit this website.