If our democracy is to thrive, we must teach children the skills they need for critical reflection and thoughtful civic engagement. Research tells us that people who have been educated in civics are more likely to vote and be involved in public life. Here are five easy, hands-on ways to help kids begin to see how they can help create the world they want to live in.
Most of us have a love/hate relationship with parenting advice. It can be annoying, contradictory, or even atrocious. But it can also be revelatory and occasionally life-changing. It can make us feel like a failure or provide new, eye-opening possibilities for responding to our parenting challenges.
Strong, nurturing communities help children thrive and succeed. They give kids a sense of belonging, an opportunity for new friendships, and practice in getting along with others. Strong communities give kids other adults to seek out when they need help and provide a lifelong network of support. Use the summer months to create or reinforce that all-important village for your family by connecting anew with folks in your local community. Your efforts will build support and make us all feel less alone.
If we believe that the challenges we face can be overcome (remembering how many have been overcome in the past), we are motivated to work harder. So even as we discuss the world's difficulties with our children, let's make an effort to share news of our progress, too. It will inspire kids to fight to make a difference for the planet and its people.
Myths and stereotypes about groups of people can be enormously damaging — both to individuals and to society. They can make us wary of others, and cause us to make inaccurate and destructive judgments about people's capabilities. If we are stereotyped, it can undermine our belief in ourselves. Here are a few of those damaging (and erroneous) assumptions -- with tips on how to provide children with a counter narrative.
Teaching our children to care for the earth is integral to teaching compassion. And as future generations work to combat climate change, the planet's health will be front and center in our children's lives. How to get started? We offer some small, fun ways your family can learn to become earth advocates.
Some parents choose not to acknowledge what their children are noticing, wanting to signal that they are "colorblind" or don't "see" disabilities. These parents worry that acknowledging differences will make their children more biased. Research suggests just the opposite, however. If you are silent about differences, children are left to assume that the stereotypical (mis)representations in our culture are accurate.
So how do you discuss human variety, acknowledge discrimination and bias -- and celebrate our commonalities and our differences? Here are some important tips.
The ideas and links below represent some of our favorites among all the unique materials, programs, and activities we're continuously generating to make it fun and easy for parents, youth leaders, and educators to pass along the values of compassion and kindness. Check out our picks below, and be sure to subscribe to our blog, newsletter, and/or volunteer listing service so you can easily find all the good we create in 2018.
Any parent would agree: The top lessons we can teach our kids include generosity, kindness and sharing. Now we have another way for you to share the joy of kindness with your children -- a collection of products that make "giving back" fun.
You'll find ideas below and on our newly launched Shop Kind page.
Feeling gratitude is great medicine. It can inspire optimism, improve health and increase happiness. But according to Adam Grant, author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, feelings of gratitude are often fleeting. What's more powerful is actually taking time to help others out. "Gratitude is a temporary emotion," says Grant, "but giving is a lasting value." Here are some ways to move from gratitude to giving this Thanksgiving. Because when we think of ourselves as givers, we are inspired to do more.
Halloween can conjure the same spirit of giving as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Below are six fabulous projects that let your family give back this Halloween. Any one of them can become a new family tradition that puts more meaning – and more funinto your festivities. Plus, your feeling of satisfaction will remain long after your stash of candy corn is gone.
The images of Hurricane Harvey's devastation in Texas and Louisiana are heartbreaking and frightening. But we have also been heartened by the stories of those who have stepped up – even risking their own lives - to rescue their neighbors. There are things your family can do to help, too. Take this opportunity to talk to your children about how much you admire these big-hearted heroes - and how your family might follow their example.
Many parents feel compelled to provide their kids with "ideal" childhoods. They try to create a world in which children are constantly entertained, rescued from unpleasant situations, and handed whatever they want in order to assure their continual happiness.
But children who grow up getting their every desire miss out on the joy of giving, the sense of accomplishment that comes with effort, and the resilience that develops when we are forced to bounce back from disappointments.
This roundup of tips will not only challenge entitlement and nurture compassion, but ultimately also will make our children happier and more successful – and in turn make the world a better place.
We don't want our children to start seeing the world as divided into "givers" and "receivers." To avoid this, remind your children that everyone needs help at times, that all of us have something to offer others – and that the world is simply a better place when we help one another out. These tips can help you raise kind, giving children while avoiding the sense of "rescuing" that can be an unintended consequence of serving others.
Managing screen time is challenging because electronic media can be so alluring -- and even habit forming. We recommend creating a family media plan to help the adults and kids in the house develop a healthy digital diet. Meanwhile, you'll be providing opportunities for critically important (and continuing) conversations with your children about how to handle a technological onslaught that will only grow.
Play is a critical way to acquire knowledge, build imagination, enhance mental and physical health, and practice social skills. Just as important, research indicates that play can help children develop empathy and compassion.
To praise or not to praise? I wouldn't blame parents for being confused. We've been getting lots of messages about praising children, many of them seemingly contradictory. If you don't praise your kids, they'll lack self-esteem!
Studies suggest that curious personalities are associated with humor, playfulness, life satisfaction, good relationships and open-mindedness. Not surprisingly, curiosity also encourages life-long learning. (Some studies even indicate that curiosity, along with hard work, might be as important as intelligence to academic performance.) Another reason to encourage curiosity is that it's deeply intertwined with kindness and empathy. Here are ways to nurture curiosity in your children while teaching them compassion at the same time.
Random acts of kindness can be wonderful...and fun, but DGT's goal is to help families put an intentional, thoughtful and daily focus on compassion and giving. And that's more important than you might think. Harvard researchers found that a large majority of middle and high-school students believe (and are sure their parents and teachers agree) that personal success is more important than being a caring person. Is this really the message we want to convey to our children? You can counter this by sharing the kindness message with your children each day.
All parents want their children to be happy. But too often we misdirect our energies as we try to ensure our children will lead blissful, fulfilled lives. Despite a spate of recent research, it's still not clear what "happiness" is, much less how to guarantee it for ourselves or our kids. Here's what you should and shouldn't do to raise a contented kid.