Smart Parenting
Practical advice about raising children

Activities to Get Your Aging Parents and Your Children Interested in the Environment

There are a number of ways to empower your aging parents and your children to engage with the natural world, and doing so can lead both generations to become more conscious of environmental issues, such as climate change and conservation practices. The available fun activities your parents and children can share to learn and grow together are endless, with the right mindset and some ingenuity.


How we interact with the Earth and our daily habits have a direct effect on the environment. Our choices of whether or not to recycle, what kinds of arts and crafts we choose to do, and where we volunteer our time can all impact our natural world — for better or worse. Fostering a relationship around the following activities can aid in making both your parents and your children more aware of the need for environmental protection and why it is important to try to implement more sustainable living practices into our daily routines.


The importance of building an eco-friendly home and backyard for your child is often underemphasized, and gardening offers so many different facets of learning and connecting with the environment available in your own backyard. Additionally, experts have drawn a parallel between working with soil and psychological benefits for all ages, such as reducing symptoms of depression. Seniors benefit from working in the garden due to the low-impact activity which keeps them moving.

Start with planting trees in your background and creating an eco-friendly garden with your child to raise their awareness of nature. You can also establish a vegetable garden to show them where their food comes from and the effort it takes to grow it. Both children and their grandparents can take pride in reaping the benefits of their hard work, as well as helping the environment. On top of trees, planting a diverse vegetable garden can help to restore depleted soils and promote the growth of healthy bacterias.

Nature Walks

There are many fun activities that seniors and children can do together that allow both participants to get some low-impact exercise, such as nature walks. Moving at a walking pace through nature allows for a more captivating experience than one would have on a bike or in a car. It provides you and your loved ones the opportunity to stop and explore when you feel called to do so. Taking nature walks may also help your parents and your children establish a deeper connection to a place. The more a person can connect with somewhere, the more likely they are to take action to protect it.


Additionally, nature can serve as its own diverse classroom — offering biology, geology, ecology, and wildlife science lessons while resting from a spot under a tree. You or your parents can also use this as an opportunity to teach your children about pollinators and how important bees are to our food system. It may help to alleviate any negative feelings that your children may have associated with bees.

Environmental education has a variety of positive impacts on young learners. As noted by Concordia University, it can:

  • Teach students to serve, protect, and participate with their communities
  • Promote citizenship and social responsibility
  • Influence learners to consider the long-term condition of the world they will inherit
  • Teach real-world problem-solving skills


Communities are constantly looking for volunteers to lend a hand in a variety of different ways. From fundraisers for conservation efforts to participating in river cleanups, there is a broad range of opportunities for your parents and children to choose from. Grandparents can set a leading example for their grandkids in how to give back to their community by showing up or organizing events that serve the environment and the community. Volunteering has also been shown to have many benefits for seniors, from keeping depression at bay to preventing dementia — an additional reason for your parents to be volunteering after retirement.


Finding ways to bring together your parents and your children should not be thought of as difficult. Even if your parents have physical disabilities, help put together some of the following activities to create a deeper bond between the two generations and the environment:

  • Storytelling: Have your parents and your children get together in a green space and share stories about memories of when they have spent in nature with one another. Perhaps you live in an area where your children have never seen snow or the ocean, but your parents can share the experiences they have had.
  • Nature art: Anything in nature can be used to make art. A single pinecone can be taken apart to create a piece on the ground. It is a valuable lesson for children on the ephemeral nature of the natural world as they watch the wind carry it away.
  • Share pictures: Everyone loves beautiful places and seeing photos of them. Go through family albums and share some of the places that both your parents and yourself have spent time and how they have changed today.

Even if your parents have never considered themselves environmentalists, they may feel compelled to set a good example for their grandchildren. With the activities outlined above, they can engage with both nature and their grandchildren. It can create small changes in their own behavior, such as finding themselves picking up litter where they never would have felt compelled to before. Such actions have a domino effect when shared with others — encouraging your parents and children to be environmental advocates may, in turn, create a few more!

How to Choose an Eco-Friendly Vehicle for Your Teen Driver

Getting a driver’s license is a right of passage for every teen. And while that prospect is scary for most parents, you can have at least a little bit of oversight on your teen, even when he or she is behind the wheel.

When the time comes to purchase a vehicle for your teen, you want a vehicle that has a slew of safety features and is also gentle on the environment. Fortunately, it’s easy to practice eco-friendly driving, and there are myriad choices when it comes to environmentally friendly vehicles.


Types of Eco-Friendly Vehicles

There are more eco-friendly vehicles on the road than ever before, and you may be overwhelmed by the choices. For instance, are electric vehicles better for the environment than hybrids or cars that run on vegetable oil? How do autonomous vehicles fit into the picture?

Your first step in choosing an eco-friendly car for your teen driver is to set a realistic budget. Then, start comparing your options. Studies show that autonomous vehicles save drivers time and improve roadway safety, but more research is needed to determine if they are more eco-friendly as well.

As for hybrids, they are by and large more eco-friendly than their gas-guzzling counterparts since they run on a combination of petrol and electricity. The majority of hybrids are built with lightweight materials, and lighter vehicles typically require less gas to operate than heavier vehicles like trucks and SUVs.

Another eco-friendly option is a car that runs on biodiesel. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, biodiesel is nontoxic and biodegradable, and it produces fewer air pollutants than traditional diesel fuel. In the U.S., biodiesel also comes with an additional perk: the biodiesel and renewable diesel tax incentive. Through 2024, taxpayers can claim credits for purchasing alternative fuel.

Eco-Friendly Driving Practices

You’re the best driving teacher your teen has, so start them off with eco-friendly driving best practices from the first time they’re in the driver’s seat. Many eco-friendly driving practices double as safety measures, giving you peace of mind when your teen is behind the wheel.

Driving at lower speeds improves your gas mileage, helping both your wallet and the environment. Encourage your teens to stick to the posted speed limit and drive smoothly to avoid “jackrabbit” starts and sudden stops.

According to the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, driving 65 mph on the highway rather than 75 can reduce fuel use by 13 percent. If your teen drives 55, it could reduce fuel costs by 25 percent. Both options will save you money and keep your teen safer on the road.

Another major player when it comes to your teen’s safety behind the wheel is smartphone use. Distracted driving is one of the primary causes of roadway accidents, leading to 3,450 fatalities in 2016 alone. When your teen puts their phone away while driving, they’ll be more attentive to their surroundings, improving safety for everyone on the road.

Top-Rated Eco-Friendly Vehicles

When you’re buying your teen’s first eco-friendly vehicle, there are myriad choices at your disposal. Look for vehicles with SmartWay certification, which is awarded to cars and trucks that emit fewer emissions than traditional vehicles. In addition, look for models that qualify for a federal income tax credit. Most electric vehicles and many hybrids qualify for a credit of up to $7,500.

As for make and model, you may want to invest in one of AAA’s Top Green Vehicle award winners. In 2018, the top three award recipients were the Tesla Model X 75D, Chevrolet Bolt EV Premier, and Nissan Leaf SL. All three vehicles are electric. The AAA rates vehicles based on a variety of criteria, which includes fuel economy, safety, and performance.  

The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) also rates cars based on their energy efficiency and environmental impact. The ACEEE’s choice for “greenest” car in 2018 was the Hyundai Ioniq Electric hatchback, which can get up to 124 miles on a single charge. It’s the second consecutive year that the Ioniq claimed to ACEEE’s top spot.

If the AAA and ACEEE award winners are any indication, electric vehicles seem to be the most environmentally friendly choice.

Final Thoughts

In our climate change-affected world, it’s more important than ever to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Since Americans spend an average of 293 hours behind the wheel each year, it makes sense to look at your driving habits to see where eco-friendly changes can be made.

And when your teen is the one behind the wheel, you want to ensure they’re safe as well as environmentally conscious. By doing your research to find the best eco-friendly vehicle for your budget and driving habits, as well as teaching your teen eco-friendly driving best practices, your teen will enjoy eco-friendly and safe driving for years to come.

What Changes to Expect When Growing Your Family

Having a new baby is a big decision. Whether you're becoming first-time parents or adding another little one to an already full household, you know a new child can bring many changes to your lifestyle, relationships and finances.

Though it may take time to adjust to your growing family, knowing what to expect can help you enjoy the process. After all, raising a baby is hectic enough without having to worry about unexpected developments.

Consider this your guide to navigating the unique challenges of having a new child — you can prepare for these four changes when growing your family.


1. Shifting Tensions in Your Relationship

Having a baby can serve as a milestone in any relationship. When you and your partner become parents, you may feel closer than ever, drawn together by the tiny bundle of joy who needs your attention.

However, it's also true that many couples experience increased or changing tensions after bringing home a new member of the family. For biological parents, some of these changes might be influenced by hormones. However, having a new child in the house can lead to new challenges whether that child is biological, fostered or adopted.

Common challenges couples face include increased stress caring for the new child, difficulty finding time to spend alone, and conflicts over how to raise the child. In general, after having a new baby, parents' attention may shift away from their romantic relationship as they care for the kid and settle into their new roles.

Though changes in relationships after having a new child are very normal, they may feel stressful or lead to issues if a couple ignores them. To avoid unnecessary tension, it's a good idea to prevent potential conflicts before they occur.

For example, you might designate a day of the week for date nights and establish the division of care duties before you bring your little one home. If necessary, you could also seek professional help through counseling, either before or after your family size increases.

2. Changing Sibling Dynamics

If you already have one or more children, you're likely prepared for changes in your relationship with your partner. However, you may also want to consider possible shifts in sibling dynamics when bringing home a second — or third, or fourth — child.

Though it may seem like an exaggeration, older siblings might take some time to adjust to their new roles as big brother or sister. As parents, you may also see your relationships with your other children shift somewhat.

Changes vary from family to family, since every child and parent relationship is unique. Commonly, though, mothers and first children grow apart following the birth of a new child. The older sibling may become more independent or the mother more preoccupied with the new baby, for example.

The age difference between your kids could also affect how kids react to becoming siblings. Some kids may love the opportunity to be a guardian or role model for their little sibling, while others may feel jealous or annoyed by the baby.

Though changing dynamics with older kids can be emotionally stressful for both parents and children, you can ease this stress by preparing for them. Seek help for specific challenges like sleeping issues and be sure to spend quality time with older siblings after the new arrival.

3. New Demands on Your Time

Another change to expect when growing your family involves increased demands on your time. Most new parents know that raising a kid takes a lot of time and effort, but many underestimate just how many new people and responsibilities will end up vying for their attention.

In addition to time spent feeding the new baby, changing diapers and not sleeping, parents may also find themselves stretched thin by new demands on their time. Ironically, these new demands may not always come from the baby.

Following the birth or adoption of a new child, it's natural for family members and friends to drop in for you to show off your child. Visitors can help parents with babysitting and by providing gifts and support. However, they may also tire you out, especially if you're continually receiving calls from people you don't see very often usually.

Make sure to save time for yourself as you adjust to having a new baby in the house, especially in the first few weeks and months. Remember, you're not required to entertain others during this time.

4. Developing Responsibilities

In addition to many relationship changes, you may also plan for financial challenges after having a baby. You'll want to adjust your budget and consider the number of legal and financial responsibilities that come with having a child, like if you will be considering sending your child to a home-based or center-based childcare facility or if you or your partner will be taking time off to ease the financial burden.

Before you bring your new baby home, it's a good idea to take care of the more boring tasks associated with having a kid. For example, you and your partner may want to create or edit your will, nominate a guardian for your child or even set up a college fund if you're ahead of the game.

You can always adjust to new responsibilities as they occur, but you can save yourself time and stress by managing at least a few of these developments ahead of time.

Handle Family Changes Like a Pro

Growing your family comes with a lot of changing dynamics and responsibilities. By knowing what to expect and planning ahead, you can handle these family changes like a pro, whether you've done this before or are just getting started.

How to Raise Your Child to Be a Healthy Eater

The joke with parents is trying to get your picky eater to have their broccoli before they can have their dessert. They won’t eat it, so you weather a tantrum storm and hope for something better the next night. Rinse, repeat. How do you curb these habits and teach children to eat a healthy meal instead of the sugary junk food they will undoubtedly prefer?


It Starts With You

First, you need to know about healthy eating yourself. Have a prepared pantry full of healthy snacks instead of processed sugar snacks marketed towards kids. If you already have a picky eater who is used to unhealthy snacks, take the same approach as with a diet: start with a sustainable change, such as changing out one of their normally unhealthy snacks for something healthy.

Remember you are also a role model, and young children often mimic their parents, guardians, and other adults that are often in their lives. If they see you eating healthy foods, they will want to try what you are eating. Do not make a big deal out of it; you don’t have to emphatically say “Mmm! Yummy!” for the child to want it. Instead, be casual. Act like it’s completely normal to eat something that the child does not normally eat. After all, it is normal — just not for the child.

If you have a baby or toddler who is ready for solid foods, typically between 6 and 9 months, you can start early with baby-led weaning.

Baby-Led Weaning

Before explaining baby-led weaning (BLW), it’s important to note that this is not a replacement for milk or formula. Milk or formula should be the primary source of nutrition until 10 to 12 months old. If your child can sit in a high chair, move their jaw up and down, and move food from the tray to their mouth, they are probably ready for BLW.

The concept behind BLW is fairly simple: Skip the purees and frozen baby food, and jump straight to giving them food from your plate. There are caveats, of course — many foods will need to be cut up or broken down into components so that they are not choking hazards, but otherwise the child can eat what you eat. Starting with soft foods, like flaky fish, soft meats, or ripe fruits, so that they can develop the skills to eat.

Major benefits of BLW include exposure to a wider variety of foods, which can lead to a preference for varied and healthier foods later in life, lowering risk of allergies (especially to fish and peanut butter), and less likelihood of becoming overweight. This is on top of developing manual dexterity and learning how to chew.

It’s important to know that at this age, they will likely not eat everything offered. The important part, no matter if you have a toddler or a 5-year-old, is to keep offering.


If you are trying to feed your child a vegetable, it’s possible they take one bite and stop. It’s also possible that they ignore a new food 10 to 20 times before they even taste it. It could take another 10 to 20 times before they decide if they like it or not. All told, it could take offering a food 40 times before a child makes a final decision.

One way to help with this is to let your child choose a vegetable they’ve had before to add to the meal. Ask them, for example, if they want peas or corn. This gives them a sense of choice and ownership, making them more likely to eat what they chose, rather than what they see as something you arbitrarily gave them.

Also remember that while it’s your job to buy healthy food, you can’t force your child to eat it. It’s your child’s job to eat what is offered. They will get hungry eventually, and if you have consistently bought healthy foods, and that is what you have on offer, they will eat it when they are hungry.


It’s important to expose your child to many different healthy food options to find ones they like and will readily eat with no fuss. However, especially in younger children, it may be wise to space out how often you serve new foods.

Generally, you want to give at least a few days between new foods so that you can determine allergies. Be aware that allergies can build up over time, and that allergies very rarely present a major reaction the first time your child eats something. It’s typically the second time they eat something that they will have a major reaction.

You can make a food adventure out of trying new food items. For example, go down a list of herbs that are great for kids, letting them smell the herbs and use it in cooking. Have them help with the cooking, as well, and they will again have ownership over the food, making them more likely to eat it. Spend a few days with them helping you use a certain herb in a few different dishes before moving on to a new herb.

Manage Expectations

Despite all of this, you need to manage your expectations. If you are starting a journey to healthy eating with a toddler, there’s a good chance that they will show little resistance to eating broccoli and cauliflower. Starting with a 5-year-old is trickier but doable.

It takes time to unlearn bad habits, and children simply are not as consistent as adults. Offering healthy choices over the course of a week and not just one night means they will have at least something healthy, and that’s a start. Simply offering a wide variety of healthy snacks, instead of buying chocolate-covered cherries, may be all you can do to start. However, getting the ball rolling and having a child realize that they like healthy snacks, and cutting down to only the occasional unhealthy snack bar, is how you start your child down the path to a life of healthy eating.

How to Pick the Perfect Childcare for Your Little One

Having a child costs quite the pretty penny, and the hospital bills soon pale in new parent's minds compared to the daunting cost of providing daycare for their tyke. Child care easily eats up nearly a full third of the monthly expense budget for many Americans.

Child care concerns extend beyond the hefty price tag. Parents must consider factors such as caretaker qualifications, facility location and proximity to the workplace, facility amenities and of course the caretaker's or facility's safety record. Selecting the correct childcare option helps make your baby's formative years a dream, not a nightmare.

preschool-1290823_640 (1)

Hire a Nanny — Or Share One

While hiring a nanny costs the most of any childcare option, for parents with multiple children or for parents of children with special needs, hiring a nanny solves many difficult childcare issues. As with any of the options, whether or not to hire a nanny depends on several factors and has benefits and pitfalls alike.

Parents of children with special needs, particularly parents of children with compromised immune systems, may select a nanny's care in order to minimize the possibility of the child contracting an infection. In addition, parents of children with behavioral issues may find hiring a nanny with education and training in dealing with emotionally delicate children preferable to risking meltdowns at the daycare center.

In addition, parents with variable work schedules appreciate the flexibility hiring a nanny has for their busy calendar. While commercial daycare and in-home daycare centers often have strict pick up times, requiring parents to interrupt a long work day to pick up their child, a simple phone call to the nanny allows parents to work late without worry.

The expense of hiring a nanny remains the biggest drawback for many parents, as quality nannies cost families up to $4,000 per month, more than many families' housing payment. If new parents have a neighborhood friend who likewise requires childcare, they may consider a nanny-share arrangement where the children spend time at each other's homes under the same nanny's care, splitting the cost in half. Sharing a nanny helps alleviate the lack of social interaction children experience when not normally exposed to a group setting such as that found in daycare centers.

Finally, parents take full responsibility for selecting which nanny to hire. Parents with safety concerns do well to listen to their intuition when selecting a care provider. If something feels off about a potential nanny, trust your gut and move on. It's far safer than taking a risk and discovering abuse on your nanny cam later.

Consider an Au Pair

Another option parents of children desirous of more one-on-one style care involves hiring an au pair. Most au pairs historically consist of young, unmarried women seeking to further their education and master a new language while residing with a host family for whom she exchanges child care services for food, lodging and a small weekly stipend for personal expenses.

Advantages of hiring an au pair extend far beyond the one-on-one care she provides to your child or children. Because au pairs reside with their host families, parents can leverage a spare bedroom sitting unused to access childcare on the cheap. As au pairs share the residence with the host families, many provide house-cleaning assistance in addition to child care.

Furthermore, hosting an au pair exposes parents and children alike to a new culture and new ideas. Most au pairs come from European countries, and as the host family is expected to help their au pair master language skills, engaging conversations build awareness of the diversity of our world.

Drawbacks to hiring an au pair include limited socialization with other children their age, which good au pairs can correct by involving children in social activities and play dates. Parents should always take care to evaluate the quality of the au pair service they select to ensure their child's safety.

Commercial Daycare

Commercial daycare centers must comply with all federal and state regulations and often offer staff specially trained in early childhood education. As such, many commercial daycare centers offer more than simply keeping kiddos safe. They also offer a wealth of educational activities that put your child on the fast track when it comes to preparing for kindergarten and grade school.

Most commercial centers do cost more than in-home or employer-based childcare services due to the fact that trained staff members demand higher salaries and maintaining licensing means conforming to all state regulations. In addition, because your child will interact with numerous other kids throughout the day, they're more likely to catch the latest bug going around. Finally, while some commercial daycares do offer extended evening hours, parents with alternative work schedules may find it tough to meet the pick-up deadline, often resulting in additional charges.

Keep It Homey

As opposed to commercial facilities, in-home daycare services take place in an individual provider's home. Some in-home daycare centers do hire trained professionals, whereas others employ family members to ensure that someone always remains available to watch the children should illness or unforeseen circumstances strike.

The biggest advantages of in-home daycare include price and familiarity. Most in-home daycare centers cost significantly less than commercial centers. In addition, many parents select in-home daycare services from neighbors they know well personally or who have helped other families they know. While this alone doesn't guarantee child safety, many parents find it eases their worries quite a bit.

Disadvantages of in-home daycare include the hours available at the facility. As in-home providers live where they work, pick-up hours tend to be stricter so that the provider can spend time with their own families. In addition, many in-home providers have strict illness policies, meaning parents must still miss work when their child gets sick.

It Takes a Village

Finally, new parents with family members nearby may find the best care begins with grandma and grandpa. The advantages of hiring a family member include minimal child safety concerns and low to no cost care. The only disadvantages include lack of socialization opportunities, which caretakers can address by forming play dates, and the need for parents to stay home should their family member fall ill.

Your child forms many of their impressions of the world in their earliest years, and as such, selecting the correct care provider helps your child build positive relationships later in life. Selecting the right daycare provider helps set a foundation for your child's future success. Choose wisely.

Helping Your Child Learn Social Skills Without Being Overbearing

Many new parents erroneously believe that social skills develop naturally in children without any guidance. However, social skills, like any other skill, develop with practice. Fostering healthy social skills in children requires the intervention of parents and caretakers.

While some children exhibit what seem like fixed personality traits such as a tendency toward shyness or gregariousness, all children can and must learn how to clearly communicate with others and navigate their way through difficult interactions. Aiding children in skills such as showing empathy toward others and assertively stating their desires prepares children for adult interactions and can, in some cases, keep children safer, as articulate, empowered children know how to explain to parents if someone else's behavior becomes inappropriate.

While parents should guide children, helicopter parenting prevents children from learning how to assert themselves. Following these tips will help you in teaching social skills to your children without diminishing their own unique spark.

group of kids playing tug of war
Photo by Anna Samoylova on Unsplash

Show More Than Tell

How many of us grew up with parents who told us to do as they said, not as they did? While this sounds great in theory, in reality, children learn far more from imitating their parents' behavior than they do from all the lectures in the world.

Therefore, modeling appropriate social skills in a variety of situations teaches children how to behave when faced with similar scenarios on their own. Parents should take care to avoid reacting in negative ways such as shouting whenever possible. Parents do well to model disagreements not as friendship-ending crises but rather a natural part of interactions between people with different ways of seeing the world.

Parents can also rehearse how to behave in certain situations before the actual interaction occurs. For example, parents can role-play with children to help them develop skills such as how to properly greet an adult, how to introduce themselves to other kids their age and how to keep a conversation going by asking open-ended questions.

Start Young

Ideally, introducing children to new people and social situations begins early when the child's natural curiosity helps to overcome any potential fears of social interaction. Children of parents who limit their child's social exposure often become timid and develop anxiety when in unfamiliar situations.

From the time children begin talking, parents should begin inviting more and more people into their youngster's life. Whenever appropriate, children should be included, not excluded, from adult conversation. In addition, enrolling a child in preschool, vacation Bible school or summer camps helps kids learn how to interact with people their own age.

Include children in as many activities with people of different age groups as possible. Parents in diverse urban areas should also seize opportunities to have their kids interact with people from different cultural heritages. Doing so teaches acceptance of others even when they seem different.

Emphasize Empathy

What the world needs now may not be love, sweet love in the romantic sense, but fostering empathy in our youth will make tomorrow's society a happier, healthier place to live. Young children see the world through a narrow lens and base everything around their sense of self. Teaching kids about the importance of honoring other people's feelings allows them to realize that what hurts them, hurts others, too, and what makes them feel good will likely do the same for another.

Avoid shaming children into sharing or otherwise cooperating, however. Embarrassing children leaves them resentful and sullen as well as more hesitant about approaching similar future interactions. Instead of condemning a child's behavior publicly, take them aside in private to explain why their actions can cause other people around them to feel bad.

Communicate Needs And Wants Effectively

Raising socially confident youngsters includes teaching them how to ask for what they want in positive ways. Children as young as four or five can begin learning the difference between behaving aggressively and behaving assertively.

Teaching kids to communicate their needs assertively helps keep them safer as well. For example, children with skill in communicating their needs assertively have a far easier time expressing to peers that a given activity, like climbing to the very top of the monkey bars at the park, frightens them. Because 70 percent of all playground injuries result from falling from equipment, kids who can vocalize an assertive, "No thank you," to activities they feel unready for suffer fewer bumps, bruises and even broken bones.

In addition, teaching children that saying, "No," to activities which make them uncomfortable, even when that means saying, "No," to an adult, can help kids more successfully avoid child predators.

Foster Healthy Friendships

Parents of teenage children focus more on who their child associates with out of fear of things such as drug and alcohol abuse. But good parents spend the time to get to know their child's friends from an early age.

Asking school-age children about whom they most enjoy spending time with and why assists children in choosing appropriate friendships. In addition, making children feel safe about addressing bullying behavior reduces the likelihood of them developing social anxiety.

Provide Varied Experiences

Children exposed to vastly different activities learn how to interact with the people they meet there. This empowers children to remain open to new experiences. Many adults become fearful in unfamiliar situations, and learning early how to imitate appropriate behavior lessens anxiety when children grow up and face tough social situations such as the first day on a new job.

Socially Savvy Kids Make for Well-Adjusted Adults

Exposing children to a variety of different situations with individuals of different ages and cultural backgrounds provides a firm foundation for a healthy, active social life when they reach adulthood. Instilling children with social confidence ensures they'll adapt well and behave appropriately in any situation they encounter in life. Giving children the ability to handle even difficult social situations makes the best gift of all.

How You Can Encourage Your Children to Help Our World

You want to leave the world a better place for your family, and to keep that cycle going, you want your kids to have a passion for preserving the earth when they've grown up. But it's hard to get your kids to listen even when you tell them to be nice to their sibling. How much harder is it to get them to be kind to the world?

It turns out it's much easier than you think — at least once your toddler has had a nap. Check out these ideas to get your children on board with helping the world and creating a better future.

1. Volunteer as a Family

Don't leave volunteer opportunities up to your kid's class projects. Step in and tell your children what problems the world and your region are facing and how your family can help. Volunteering can be a fun and vital activity for parents to do with their children. In 2015, each American volunteer spent around 52 hours volunteering over the span of a year. That's only one hour a week over the course of the year — which is pretty doable.

When you hear about a need in your area, do more than remark how sad the situation is. If a shelter doesn't have enough servers to dish out their hot meals, bring your son or daughter along — but don't forget a step stool for them.

It may be easier to contact your babysitter and leave your rambunctious kids at home while you extend a helping hand, but think of these opportunities as teaching moments. Get your children in on volunteer work now so that they continue to serve their communities when they're older.

2. Explore Nature


In a culture filled with screens, there's a growing disconnect between kids and the outdoors. Parents of 8- to 12-year-olds report that their kids play on screens three times more than they play outside during the week. So how do you get your kid unglued from their smartphone and out in nature? Go exploring with them in green spaces, parks or just in your front yard.

As children explore the outdoors, they can better connect with the earth that you're teaching them to protect. Especially if you live in a city with more concrete than trees, your kids may not know how ecosystems work or how enjoyable spending time in nature can be. Show them around places you loved adventuring through when you were a kid or take a trip to a national forest. You can also plant a garden, go on a hike or do a wildlife scavenger hunt to get the ball rolling.

3. Show Respect and Responsibility for the Environment

Demonstrate the importance of caring for the earth by adopting eco-friendly practices in your home. Recycling, repurposing items and picking up litter are all ways you and your family can take responsibility for the upkeep of the environment. Explain to your children that leaving garbage on the ground is disrespectful and show them what to do instead. Go out of your way to leave streets, sidewalks and lawns free of trash for a memorable and ongoing lesson.

Since the 1950s, the human race has generated 18.2 trillion pounds of plastic — but you can tell your kids that's about the size of a billion elephants. To reduce your impact on the environment and conserve resources, set up recycling bins in your household. You can take recycling a step further by pushing for public recycling bins in your city if you don't already have them. Work with your children to make a difference.

4. Get Involved Locally and Globally

Find out what your area is doing to maintain nature and live responsibly. Whether your city has community gardens or educational events, participate with your children so they can see they are not alone. Let your kids see that they are a part of an inspiring community that wants to take action.

While local involvement is crucial, your kids can also contribute to global needs. Explain the bigger picture to your children, so they know that their small contributions can help the earth for future generations. Days like World Humanitarian Day can help children learn about others' needs and reveal how they can help the world as a whole. This event covers everything from current conflicts to how you can take action and change troubling situations around the world.

5. Teach as You Go and Learn Together

As you volunteer alongside your child or adventure through the woods, explain how your actions affect others. These teaching opportunities turn activities into meaningful and sustainable practices. When your kids know why they do an act of kindness, they are more likely to willingly do helpful things. As your child recognizes on their own that someone is hurting due to poverty or from the loss of a loved one, you'll know they are learning.

While you teach your kids about improving the world, you can learn new things, too. Tell your kids when you learn a new lesson or realize something you've never thought before. Your example shows them that learning about the world continues to happen through adulthood, which can make them lifelong learners.

6. Lead by Example With Curiosity and Kindness

As a parent, you know that little eyes and ears watch and listen to you, eventually reflecting your example. Make sure you're leading them to be kind, helpful people by living that way. Do your best to better the world and care for those living in it so your kids follow in the right footsteps.

Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds