Inspiring a sense of appreciation in children means more than tossing off a quick “thank you.” Children who are grateful display a more positive mood and are more likely to provide support to others than those who don’t, according to researchers. Youngsters who are grateful are also happier, more optimistic, and more helpful.
Grownups have book clubs – why not families? At Doing Good Together we’ve pioneered what we call the Big-Hearted Family Book Club. Each book is paired with an act of service, which means children get to practice kindness and build empathy while also developing a passion for books, conversation, and generosity. Here, for the first time, we explain how parents and grandparents can start their own BHF Book Club at home.
While all kids love receiving Valentine's cards and candy, V-Day is a good time to remind children about the importance of giving—performing acts of kindness and making others feel loved and appreciated. Try one (or all) of these family-friendly ideas to share a little L-O-V-E.
With a little bit of effort this season, the children in your family will have as much fun giving as getting. By weaving an extra dollop of compassion into the winter holidays, you’ll provide an antidote to the season’s focus on materialism and commercialism and remind yourself of the joy that empathy and sharing can bring to your celebrations.
Whether the start of the new school year brings excitement or nervous anticipation, adding a kindness element to your back-to-school routine will enrich it with meaning — and fun. Plus, having conversations about students who have to fight hard to spend time in school — or to get the supplies they need to succeed — will increase your own child’s understanding of the value of education.
“There is just a tremendous need, and so often teachers end up spending their own money on supplies for their classrooms,” said Jenny Friedman, founder of Doing Good Together, a St. Paul organization that promotes family volunteering and philanthropy.
She encourages families with the means to make a ritual of buying supplies to donate when they go back-to-school shopping every summer with their own children.
“Kids need crayons and paper and pencils,” she said. “Plus, it’s just fun to shop for school supplies.”
The research is unequivocal: When children spend time doing good for other people, they grow up to be healthier, happier and more caring. Super-simple service projects like these can help parents and grandparents build a habit of kindness in even the smallest children. Along with each project are questions to bring up while you work, to get little ones thinking about the value of generosity and compassion.
Researchers have found that caring and compassion skills can be practiced and, like a muscle, get stronger with use. Even toddlers and preschoolers can learn from simple family activities such as making cards or sharing a batch of cookies you made together. Here are seven ideas to get you started with your kids.
Most parents want to raise children who value generosity, act with kindness toward others, and have compassion for suffering. We want them to be grateful for what they have and to use their strengths to help others.
But we must also recognize the danger of becoming patronizing or feeling we have the answers to other people’s struggles. We must guard against seeing the world, as Mr. Rogers worried, as divided into “givers” and “receivers.”
In a culture where messages of entitlement abound, here are some ways to help your child manage those pressures...
...The beauty of these simple practices is that they not only challenge entitlement and nurture kindness, generosity, and compassion, but ultimately they make our children happier and more successful. In turn, they make the world a better place.
One way to make family time more memorable and meaningful is by engaging in an activity that gives back to your community or a cause your family cares about. Create double-duty family time by finding socially responsible activities that everyone can participate in together — no matter their age.
“I couldn’t believe that in a city of eight million people, there would not be a one-stop shop listing through a family magazine or a website that would just provide you with a calendar of family-friendly volunteer opportunities,” Silverstein says. “I couldn’t find it.” What she did find was the website for Doing Good Together, a Minneapolis, MN nonprofit dedicated to connecting families with volunteer opportunities; she then emailed its founder, Jenny Friedman, about expanding the organization and creating a branch in New York.
Friedman founded Doing Good Together in 2004 in order to foster the habit of family volunteerism and helpparents raise children who are engaged with the needs of their communities.
Eleven years ago, Jenny Friedman crafted a vision for a new kind of volunteering.
Parents and other caring adults wouldn’t leave their kids at home when they performed acts of kindness. They’d bring the kids along, tapping into youngsters’ innate desire to help others.
Instilling the spirit of giving in our children requires more than an occasional project, Friedman has learned. It must become our family’s day-in, day-out philosophy, our way of life.
And it’s never too soon to start.
...think about our kids as citizens of the world, with voices that matter and the chutzpah to make a difference. Luckily in NYC, there are tons of opportunities for kids to effect change in their community, starting at any age. Here are a few ways to get your family involved.
If you're like me, you want to volunteer more, you want to give more, you want to get your kids involved – but how? How can we get involved with so little time, and so little money?
I'm sharing 3 ways families ... even those that are time- and cash-strapped... can make a difference to others in need.
Amid so many messages of wanting and getting, so many wish lists and shopping lists, we all deserve to make time for giving back. What better opportunity than at the events already on our calendars?
Whether you involve immediate family or host a boisterous group of friends and neighbors, these ideas will add more meaning to your holiday parties and may become annual traditions that teach your children the values of compassion and empathy.
As Thanksgiving draws near, we feel compelled to start the holiday wish list. No matter how kind-hearted we are, or how grown up we are, this activity gives us a huge case of the gimmes.
Here are 6 tips to help your family launch a gratitude practice that will make this year’s holidays shine – and perhaps carry one long after those gifts are unwrapped.
Because we’ve turned to Doing Good Together again and again for creative project ideas, book suggestions, and conversation starters, stepping in and being a helper has become second nature to both of my daughters
The next time your child asks to have pals over, consider organizing a simple and fun service project that can be done at home to help people in need. It's a great way to keep the kids entertained while teaching them the importance of giving back to their community—and reminding them of how lucky they are to have a room overflowing with toys!
“A lot of parents feel overwhelmed by the idea of community service,” says Jenny Friedman, Ph.D., executive director of Doing Good Together, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit that helps families find ways to volunteer together. ... But projects like Marin’s prove that it doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference. The best way to get kids excited about taking on a new project? Start with something they already know and love.