Practicing kindness gives children better mental and physical health, stronger relationships, and a higher sense of self-worth. Fortunately, research tells us that kindness and empathy are qualities our kids can learn. We need to let our children know that during difficult challenges, we find ways to help one another. Here’s how.
Be thankful. Gratitude is great medicine. Being grateful actually inspires optimism and happiness. Every evening at dinner, write in a journal something you’re grateful for (younger family members can draw pictures). Or collect your “gratitudes” in a jar or hang them up. Also share drawings and notes with our brave helpers: delivery folks, your mail carrier, health care worker, grocery store clerks, and others.
Bake and share. When your family bakes cookies or muffins, wrap a few to share. Perhaps include a hand-decorated plate and card. Talk about being a good friend and neighbor and how important it is that folks in the community look out for one another.
Read big-hearted books. Reading and discussing a good book together can deepen empathy and provide new perspectives. Try asking these questions: How do you think [character] felt? What would you have felt in [character’s] situation? Would you have acted differently if you were [character]? If so, how?
Doing Good Together, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit, has dozens of other fun, free ideas to help your family live generously.