Small Habits That Can Make Our World Better


Children helping a mother clean up.One of the many challenges of parenting is teaching our children how to help make the world a better place. The world and all the people in it need our care. Many problems feel too big to solve, but our children are never too young to start learning how to chip in and help.

Sometimes, we get so lost in the big picture and the big problems that we forget the little things we can do with our children daily to improve our communities. I hope you and your family will join me in some basic habits that can make a big difference.

Habit #1: Cleaning up after yourself.

This seems easy, but when I look around, I’m shocked at how many adults fail to model this behavior for children. When you leave a place, look around. Are you leaving a mess? Did you eat lunch and leave the wrappers and plates behind for someone else to clean up? Did you spill something in the grocery store and walk away, figuring someone with a broom will be by in a little bit? Did you finish a drink and leave an empty glass at a table rather than take it to the bar?

Start modeling the behavior yourself and work with your children to help them be mindful of their environment. You can encourage your children to put the crayons and paper away when they are done coloring. The same goes for toys, plates, and cups after dinner. Together, you can make it a family habit to spend a few minutes cleaning up whenever you leave a place.

Also, let’s encourage our children to realize who is cleaning up the messes they leave behind. For instance, our elementary school has one of the best custodians ever. He helps at every event, dresses up for theme days, and knows the name of every kid in our school. Our children love him. When our kids talk about a mess in the cafeteria or the hallway, we remind them that one of their favorite people had to clean it up. That kind of realization can really hit home.

Habit #2: Thank the people who help you.

Kids can be shy, especially with adults. But let’s model thanking the people who help us every day and encouraging our kids to do the same. I always send my kids back to thank their coaches for their time after practices and games. When we’re out, we thank the people who hold doors for us, wipe down a table before we sit, or move out of our way so we can go first. Noticing acts of kindness around you and responding with your children to show your gratitude for them are great habits to start.

Habit #3: Looking to see how you can help.

We try to help our children become aware of others. When they enter a room, they can look for ways to chip in and help rather than taking a seat and living in their own bubble. Does a friend need help getting ready for the day? Is there something the teacher could use help with? Is there a mess they could quickly clear up without being asked?

A lot of the time, moms feel the mental load of knowing everything that needs to be done and then having to relay this information to everyone else. Now that my children are older, I’m trying to help them get into the habit of noticing what needs to be done in the house without my having to nag them first.

Having people chip in without being asked is the goal! Can you imagine how much calmer it would feel at home if our kids knew how they could help? We’re not there yet, but we’re trying! And I’m hoping it’s a habit they’ll take with them wherever they go.

What habits can you start with your family to make the world around you a little bit better?


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