Every parent wants their children to grow up to be kind and generous human beings. While we cannot force our children to be kind, there are ways we can encourage them to live a life full of generosity and compassion.
Plant a Garden
As a family, plant a vegetable garden and teach your children how to nurture and care for the garden so that it grows. After they have lovingly tended to the garden and the vegetables have grown and ripened, gather them up and have your family go together to donate them to your local food bank. Donating food that they have worked hard to grow themselves will give them a different kind of pride than just donating canned goods bought at the store. They spent hours tending to the vegetables so that they can help those with less than them have fresh food to eat. That is a feeling they are not likely to forget anytime soon. Make it a yearly family tradition and one day your grandkids will probably be growing a garden of love as well.
Start a Family Kindness Club
Have every member of your family commit to performing one act of random kindness each week. The act of kindness can be something as simple as holding the door open for someone who has their hands full, or helping Dad to rake the leaves without him asking. One night a week have the family sit down together and share the random acts of kindness that they performed that week. You may be surprised how much this encourages your children to pay attention to their behavior.
In addition to teaching kindness and respect towards our fellow human beings, it is important that we teach our children to be kind and respectful of the earth as well. Encourage your child to collect aluminum cans and plastic bottles that can be taken to a recycling center that pays you for bringing them in. Collect the recycling money in a jar and when it gets full, let your child choose a local charity to donate the money to.
Teach Through Actions
The best way to teach your children to be kind and respectful is for you to treat them with kindness and respect. Praise them and offer encouraging words. Keep the tone in your household a positive one and avoid negativity or putting each other down.
Start a Kindness Jar
Designate a glass jar as a kindness jar and put a jelly bean in it every time someone in the family does something kind or nice. When someone does something mean or hurtful, take two jelly beans out of the jar. Removing twice as many for a mean or hurtful act signifies the harm that acting that way causes. When the jar is full, the family gets to reward themselves. The reward can be getting to eat the jelly beans, going out to eat at a favorite restaurant, or taking a trip to the children’s favorite park. The kindness jar is a great way to demonstrate that kindness pays off, while being unkind brings unwanted consequences.
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