Performing acts of kindness with your young child will be a meaningful way to teach them real lessons about love, kindness, and compassion. There's no need to do grand, over-the-top displays to make a big impact, however. A few simple acts that your toddler can participate in will be enough to lay down the foundation of thoughtfulness that will last a lifetime.
- Donate toys - Have a talk with your little one about those who are less fortunate. You can even find age-appropriate books at the library that talk about generosity. Then, survey the toys in your child's room with them. Ask them if there are any items that they'd like to give to a child less fortunate. Don't just grab the worn-out or broken toys. Challenge them to give up something they enjoy because it means others will enjoy it, too. Collect the toys in a box and bring your child with you to donate. Seeing the actual donation happen will ensure that they understand that they've contributed to a good cause. Aside from Goodwill or Salvation Army, you may consider donating them to a doctor's office, women's shelter, children's homes, or police and fire departments.
- Draw a Picture for teacher/care provider - Your toddler's motor skills are rapidly progressing and their ability to draw is emerging. Put this new skill to use by having your little one draw a picture for their teacher or care provider. They'll be so proud presenting their gift and seeing the smiles it produces!
- Hold the door open - Holding the door open for others is a simple practice in etiquette that can lead to other polite behaviors in the future. Your toddler may be too small to reach the handle, but they can certainly prop the door once you've initially opened it for them. Let them keep the door open for others at the store and watch how proud they feel as they're thanked. The positive reinforcement they get from the social interactions prompted by this practice will motivate them to be polite and kind in the future.
- Call a grandparent - It's likely that your parents dote all over your child and that they have a positive relationship filled with love already. Teach them that relationships are a two-way street by training them to show initiative by calling their grandparents once a week. Starting this practice now will ensure they keep their very special grandchild/grandparent relationship up in the future, even as both your child and parents age.
- Pick up trash at the park - Hands-on and simple, picking up trash at the park shows love for the community and environment. Put on some gloves and see how lovely everything looks after you and your child put in some work!
- Share with a friend - If your toddler goes to daycare or any other regular social situation with peers, have them bring a special toy of theirs to share with others, like a set of blocks or some stuffed animals. It's a good practice to start before they start going to school, where they'll be expected to share many items. You can pair this act of kindness with a good book from the library about sharing ahead of time to get them comfortable with the idea.