We can all agree this world needs a lot more love and kindness, and it all begins within ourselves and in our homes. The best way to teach our children about love and kindness is to show them how we do it every single day with our relationship with them, ourselves, our partners, our friends, our communities and our earth.
Here are several activities to teach your kiddos about kindness because nothing is more powerful than how we show these values to them in our own lives.
Love collage – Love may mean different things to different people and may be expressed in different ways. Sit down with your kiddo and define what love means to you both. Express this love through art, writing, or a simple conversation. Ask your kiddo what love means to them and have them create a collage by photos in a magazine that remind them of love and then share it with each other. Not only are you demonstrating love by spending quality one-on-one time with them, this will get them thinking about the concept and will help them to start to recognize it more in their own lives when they feel it or notice it.
Practice gratitude – When we intentionally focus on what we are grateful for, versus what we are lacking, we foster a feeling of love and positivity. Throughout the day make a conscious attempt to say 5 things you are grateful for throughout the day in front of your little one and ask them what they are grateful for.
Challenge your own unkind/unloving thoughts and beliefs – Kids are like sponges and easily absorb our ways of thinking/acting/behaving. One of the most powerful things we can do is to transform any negative thoughts into loving/kind ones. Do this by challenging any negative thoughts about yourself, others, society that may be more destructive than constructive. Write them out and responding as if you were giving advice to a friend. This must be done repeatedly to stick but the payoffs are worth it. You can even let your kiddo in on the process and show them how you are trying to love more greatly by challenging your own little monsters in a positive way.
Be present – How good does it feel if someone is totally present with you when you are talking (or not) and looks at you in the eye? Focusing your full attention to someone is a powerful act. Sitting with your kiddo and looking them in the eye when they are talking allows them to feel nurtured and valued. If you are consistently doing this with them, don’t be surprised if you see them start doing this with their own friends.
Send kind thoughts – Have your kiddo write cards or make small gifts for people they love and care about in their lives. This activity will not only get them thinking about others, they will get to experience another’s reaction firsthand to receiving an unexpected thoughtful gift, and it will reinforce how good it feels to give to others.
Love Mother Earth – Make a list with your kiddo on simple things you can do together to love Mother Earth and make it a better place. This may be things like “picking up a piece of trash when you see it”, “planting a flower”, “turning the faucet off when you brush your teeth”, etc. Then go out and do it with your kiddo.
Love is an elusive concept that can be challenging to define but by practicing these activities above, you can start to instill beliefs and actions in your little one that will help them define love and kindness for themselves. It will make them feel good inside and out and will start to make the world a more loving and kind place one kiddo at a time.