The world can always use a little more kindness, and where better to start than with our own families? These small acts can make a big difference in a child’s life. Check out these ten parenting ideas for the new year, or set out to create your own.
- Encouraging messages: Everyone is familiar with the loving lunch box notes. But if you have an older kid that would be embarrassed by a lunchbox message (aka a middle-schooler) or you just want to take it a step further, create bedroom door messages. Colorful stock paper bursts from the dollar store work great. Leave a word describing your child, or write an entire sentence. Make it unique. Throw in some new vocabulary words that will send them to the dictionary out of curiosity.
- Random Acts of Kindness: Be kind together. Most of the time, being kind and doing for others makes everyone feel good and will make a lasting impression on your child. “Secret Missions” are adventures for children, allowing them the joy of doing without expecting anything in return.
- Surprise!: Shake things up and do something unexpected. It can be small, like an ice cream date for no reason. My son loves going into a coffee house and having one-on-one time. Find out what makes them happy and surprise them randomly.
- Movie Night: Every Friday night is pizza and movie night, with a documented rotation on who gets to pick. This started because of COVID and the lack of things to do, but now the kids count on it every week. Sometimes we throw in an extra movie on Sunday night to watch old-school classics from mom and dad’s childhood – parent’s night to pick.
- Listen. Really listen. Ask questions. If possible, have them demonstrate what they’re talking about. It’s likely something of no interest to you, but sharing it is important to kids.
- Be Like A Kid: Try the sour candy. Chase them through the yard. Play hide-and-seek. One vivid memory I have from my childhood is when my aunt would take the time to jump rope with my cousins and me. It made great memories that I’ve always treasured.
- Daily One-on-One Time: This is time devoted to each individual child. Our bedtime routine is our one-on-one time. Not only does this dedicated time make the child feel special, but it also opens the door for conversation that, otherwise, may get lost.
- Take the Trip/Monthly One-on-One Dates: The important thing is to make memories, whether it be a short camping trip or each child having a “date” out with you. You may be making memories that they will one day share with their own children.
- Say I Love You: Sure, you show them how much you love them, but make sure you tell them too. Some adults say they grew up never hearing the words “I Love You” from their parent(s) even though they knew the love was there. Hearing it verbalized out loud is powerful.
- Be Human: Although we, as parents, have superpowers, we are still human. You will have off-days, sad days, or angry days. Express the emotions appropriately, but don’t put up a facade that life is flawless. This isn’t Leave It To Beaver, this is life, and it’s a roller coaster.
Beautiful suggestions! Thanks for the inspiration!
I love this. It is much easier to learn kindness as children than as adults. Great suggestions.
Thank you for reading! I appreciate your warm comments. I agree that it is easier to learn kindness as a child.
My kids are older so I can vouch for some of your suggestions. Now we volunteer together.