Go ahead: make someone's day with these little ideas.
The youngest children need your help to learn that the world is bigger than themselves. When your child yells, "I want chocolate cookies!" in the middle of a crowded grocery store, you can reply, "Okay, that's what you want. What do you think Dad wants? Shall we bring home a treat for him?"
Show a child that changing the world can begin in his own backyard. If he has a favorite local playground, help him organize a group of friends to help clean it up. Pick up trash, pull weeds, wipe up dirt and spills. Take before and after pictures.
Even young children can volunteer to help others. Singing holiday songs in a nursing home or collecting toys for needy kids are appropriate activities for preschoolers. Older children may be ready to volunteer at the hospital, library or animal shelter.
Your child may be too young to babysit or mow lawns, but that doesn't mean she can't help out on your street. She could serve as a mother's helper and play with younger children while a parent prepares dinner. She could offer to help bring in groceries for an elderly friend or water the garden for a busy neighbor.
Help your child contact a local homeless shelter to see what supplies they need. Depending on the time of year, they could be looking for food, warm clothing, furniture, linens, toiletries, toys, or office supplies. Encourage your child to collect new and gently used supplies from friends, neighbors and family members to deliver to the shelter.
Most kids aren't in a position to write a big check to their favorite charity. But almost everybody has extra pennies sitting in a cup on their dresser. Encourage your child to find a cause he cares about and launch a penny drive at school or in the neighborhood. He'll develop a giving habit and learn that even small donations can add up to a big difference for those in need.
Like many other values, kindness is more likely caught than taught. By working to help others in your community, you're setting a powerful example for your child.