Raising Kind Kids: A Letter to Moms of Toddlers
Dear Mom of toddlers,
To the lady who feels required to have it all, give it all, and know it all, this is for you. To the one who finds herself surrounded by little humans who are taking a lot more than they are giving, please keep reading.
In between the countless times you’ll wipe runny noses, prepare bowls of snacks, clean up dishes and attempt to organize the toys strewn over every square inch of your home, you are doing the holy work of raising children. I am with you in these trenches, mom! My two toddler boys bring more joy and challenge to my life than I ever thought possible.
Here’s the deal though, while this season of sleepless nights, sippy cups, and SO MANY DIAPERS, is as tiring as the amount of laundry you’ve done (a lot, I’m guessing), you have the distinct honor of helping shape the type of person your child becomes. I don’t mean their future accomplishments or extracurricular activities. I mean:
The way they see and treat others.
Their kindness and generosity.
The state of their heart.
It really, really matters.
See, when we allow our little humans to take, take, take, they grow up to be big humans who keep taking. I believe we can raise generous and kind kids, and we can start even when they are young.
It is completely exhausting to follow every message you hear on social media about the right way to parent your child. Really, it’s impossible.
BUT, I do encourage you to consider the five thoughts below. I pray they will give you a great foundation to steer your toddlers towards generosity.
1. Help them define giving at a young age.
This probably starts with you. Do you think about giving? What do you think about giving? At I Like Giving, we teach giving in seven ways to live generously (though there are so many more!) This means giving of your:
Have you always thought giving is only about money? Even families on a tight budget have the chance to be generous in so many ways! Make sure your kids know that generosity can take many forms- and that they can get involved too.
2. Ask your kids questions…and listen to their answers!
I’m a big “questions” person. Questions are one of the first ways to understand if there’s a giving opportunity. Ask them if they notice the nice person helping someone at the grocery store, and ask them what they think about the unkind words they heard at the playground. Give them a chance to form an opinion and think critically.
Actually listening to their answers can be tricky (you’re probably even reading this on your attention-stealing phone), but it’s so important to allow them a voice in this topic. And bonus: Being generous with your attention with your children will go a long way when you’re modeling giving.
3. Check yourself.
Your kids are watching you. I know you’ve heard it, read it, and been told it before. But, it’s so true. They notice your words, attitudes, what or who you pay attention to, and so much more.
Are you modeling generosity with your life? Are you assuming the worst or giving people the benefit of the doubt? Are you gossiping or lifting others up? If you are modeling a generous life, it will become so normal to them that they will grow up believing kindness is normal!
4. Talk with your partner about giving in front of your kids.
One of the ways you ensure your kids won’t have any clue about generosity is to only discuss it privately with your partner. Invite your kids to be part of the conversation by having the conversation with them present. Talk about loaning your vehicle to someone in need, volunteering, or donating items from your home, right in front of them!
5. Make giving fun and tangible for them.
Since your kids will know they don’t need money in a checking account to give, they will feel empowered to find giving opportunities in other ways. Allow them to choose some of their own things to donate and then include them in the actual giving.
Find a family friendly organization in your community that you could volunteer at all together. Encourage them when you hear them say something thoughtful - acknowledge that they were just generous with their words. There are ways to get every child, no matter their age, thinking about others.
One of the greatest encouragements I can give you today, my fellow mom, is to accept the generosity of those around you. You don’t have to do it all, and in this season for you, maybe modeling gracious receiving is the best thing you can do for your kids.
You will have the chance to be the giver someday, and when that day comes, you and your kids will be fully prepared to see a need and spring into action.
Back to the trenches,
 Resource: Watch our film, I Like Bugshells, with your kids and talk about a cause they may care about. Give them a chance to think of a fun creative way that they can give toward that cause!