With these simple activities, your family can make the world a better place. Take one small step today, or try them all as part of a 30-day action plan.
Be early to rise
Set the alarm twenty minutes early to avoid the weekday morning rush. With luck, you’ll spend less time hustling your kids out the door and more time checking in with them about the day ahead. Connecting leads to caring.
Remember that every contribution counts
Enlist your children to aid with chores. Young kids especially love to “help.” Let them know their efforts are important to the running of your household. Helpers around the home are helpers around the neighborhood.
Make time for table talk
At the dinner table, encourage kids to discuss highlights and low points in the day. Get them talking about outrages and injustices they’ve witnessed, then help them figure out how to react—and act.
Give the presence of time
Don’t rush. Let your child discover their own abilities at their own speed.
Plan dinner and a movie
Set aside a family night to play games or watch a movie or make a meal together. Go international! Cook a meal from a world away. Watch a movie about a different culture.
Turn commutes into communication
Make the backseat of the car a no iPod, gadget-free zone. Encourage your kids to talk. If they won’t, take the lead and share stories from your day.
Perform not-so-random acts of kindness
Open a door for someone. Help someone out who is short changed. Buy lunch for a stranger. Clean up someone else’s mess.
Try on a new pair of shoes
Ask your kids: “how would you feel if…?” It’s a question that’s perfect for every occasion. Ask kids to put themselves in someone else’s shoes—happy or sad.
Make thanks a habit
Invite every person around the dinner table to express gratitude for something that happened during the day.
Take action on poverty
Create a package of colorful school supplies for an elementary classroom in need in your community. New crayons, markers and other goodies will help you spread community spirit and reach out as mentors to younger kids
Have patience for trial and error
Spilled milk is truly no cause for tears, especially if it’s the result of an ambitious preschooler learning to self-serve. Help your child deal with the consequences. “Here’s a cloth to mop up…”
Let your child choose—when safe and possible—and stand by his or her choices. Doing so demonstrates your faith in his abilities.
Share the wealth
If you give your kids an allowance, encourage them to divide it into three: Save some, spend some and share some.
Make room to explore
Your talents are your talents. Give your kids the freedom to and their own way to shine.
Tell your children you have faith in them and believe they can succeed.
Show and share
Encourage kids to share their talents with friends, family and community.
Discuss the headlines
When you are reading the daily newspaper—we suggest you subscribe to one—point out stories of interest. Discuss individuals you read about. Talk about the difference they are making in the world.
Care about your neighbors
Point out growing concerns in your community. Find websites that explain.
Lead, then get out of the way
When children are young they especially need the support of a trusted adult—parent, teacher or mentor. There are many ways to help children as they take their first steps. Children learn by example, of course. But they are also usually open to guidance that helps them on their way.
Help your young activists establish achievable actions. Break large goals into smaller pieces. Make sure the action is both fun—though not superficial—and do-able.
Let things go wrong
Allow them to make mistakes. Don’t always clean up their messes.
Aspire to be your child’s go-to person for answers. Be honest when you don’t know the answers—find them together.
Remember that the little things count
Model small actions for your children. Smile at the people you pass on the street. Strike up a conversation with a stranger. Do a favor for a friend.
Young people crave stories of emotional courage. Draw examples from the civil rights movement, the Holocaust, the suffrage movement. Take stories from newspapers and books and movies. And, of course, tell stories from your own life.
Hang a map of the world on a wall in your kitchen, family room or your child’s bedroom. When you discuss issues with your kids, help them to locate the country you are discussing.
Help your child write a letter to tell others what they think about an issue. It could be a note to request information, a thank-you card or a letter to a politician or an editor.
Be a friend
Suggest that your child offer to show a new student around — introducing them to friends and teachers.
Teach your kids to stand up to bullies, or protect those who are being bullied.
Watch your balance
Help kids see that there’s more to life than marks. Show them that it takes more than money to make the world go around.
Fill a pocket with love
If you are a poet, a teller of jokes or simply a kind-hearted soul, sneak a note into the pocket or lunch of a loved one. It is guaranteed to bring a smile to his or her face.