We all want to raise healthy, happy kids who don’t take their blessings for granted. Here are some simple ideas you can incorporate into your everyday parenting to keep kids smiling and kind:
Include them in pet care. Animals are a great way to help your child learn about love and responsibility. Whether it’s a hamster, dog or goldfish, little ones can be involved in age-appropriate ways, like setting out food or daily check-ins to make sure the animal is okay.
Be a role model. Practice what you preach by modelling compassionate words and actions in your own life. This includes being patient and understanding with your kids, your partner and the people you encounter every day — even the server at a restaurant or your bus driver.
Acknowledge positive and negative behavior. Encourage more of the behaviors you want and less of the ones you don’t with simple positive reinforcement. Tell your child you’re proud of them when you see a compassionate action, like sharing a toy with their sibling. When they do something less than kind, calmly explain why it wasn’t very nice and provide some examples of how they can do better next time.
Foster emotional intelligence. Empathy and compassion are easier and more automatic reactions when you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Help your kids understand their own feelings, teach them words to describe emotions, and show them how to read people’s faces and behavior for signs of happiness and distress.
Teach paying it forward. Impart gratitude by trying to name one thing you’re thankful for every day and show that gratitude for what you have by lending a hand to a good cause. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, attend a rally or march, or donate items you no longer need to charity. Amnesty International Canada has great ideas for how you can get involved in things like women’s rights and refugee support. There’s even activities you can do with the kids, like create paper butterflies to send to families with missing relatives in Mexico.