How we can make kindness and habit and why we should, with John Magee.

What is the impact of being kind to others?

I think it’s such a beautiful gift to be kind to others. I love how we can all harness this power to make others happy. I’ve been teaching it today to Year 6, talking about how it doesn’t matter if you are 10 years old or 50 years old, we all want to be happy. It’s not going to change when you get to 70 or 80: we still all want to be happy. It’s the pursuit of happiness! All I know is, when I go out of my way to be kind to someone else, it makes me really happy; it makes me feel good knowing it will make someone else happy.

What is the impact of being kind to ourselves?

This is massive, and another concept I just shared with one of the pupils. I explained that I am writing a book called “Six Keys to Kindness”. The first one is self: that before we are kind to others, we need to be kind to ourselves. The second one is family, the third is friends, the fourth is school, the fifth is our community and the sixth is the planet. I then talked to this pupil about what she could do for herself. We know many teachers get burnt out in education because they do a fantastic job and go beyond the call of duty every hour and forget about themselves.

We must take care of ourselves – and teachers need to make a habit in their everyday life to have some time for themselves.

Misconceptions about self-care

Being kind to yourself is often misinterpreted as being selfish. It is not selfish to be kind to yourself. If anything, I feel we were let down when we were at school. They were very good at teaching us our manners and to have respect for others, but I never once heard when I was growing up ‘be kind to yourself.’ I think being in a position in any education setting to talk to children about self-love and kindness is really important.

It’s like the instructions you get on a plane for the oxygen masks: you must put on your own oxygen mask
first, before helping others. It’s not selfish; it’s common sense! You’re no good to anybody if you are spent and your ‘Happy Tank’ is empty.

How can we make kindness a habit?

The Happy Tank was developed in the primary school I am in now in: Westminster Primary Academy in Blackpool. It has the highest levels of deprivation, top 3 for everything. It’s in such a deprived area. This is where I developed the PSHE e-learning programme and the Happy Tank book. Real-life cases and real-life kids sharing their worries, concerns and anxieties. The aim is to teach the children how to take care of themselves with self-soothing kindness. Therapeutic techniques that cost nothing but time, and that make us feel happy. This I call ‘Happy Habits.’ I ask pupils, “If you didn’t brush your teeth for three days, what would happen?” They give all sorts of responses about teeth rotting and falling out, bad breath etc. I explain these are habits that we have learnt that are part of our daily makeup.

I then ask them to imagine what would happen if we set aside 5 minutes each day in the morning and at night to fill our Happy Tank and explain this is what forms Happy Habits. I teach children to do two minutes of breathing, two minutes of reflection, affirmations, gratitude, happy tapping. In essence, it’s about how kindness starts with the self. Once they learn how to be kind to themselves, they can go out and be kind to others.


  • John Magee

    John is sharing kindness with teachers and cultivating kind classrooms in hundreds of schools throughout the UK. He is a father, speaker, author and mentor to leaders of education.

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