From that extra hug in the morning to a giving a friend a helping hand, your little sweethearts follow their hearts every day. We all agree, not only do the kids rock your world, they can also change the world. Read on for 10 ways to inspire your children to be their best self, every day.

painting photo: Zhao via flickr 

1. Give Thanks

Between birthdays and the winter holidays, you are probably already in the habit of sending out thank you notes for the gifts your kids receive from friends and relatives. Inspire your children to think gratefully by sending out thank you cards or making thank you calls for non-physical gifts, too. An unexpected phone call to let your friend know they made you feel special today, a note to the teacher thanking them for the extra time they took to explain a math problem—throwing out the thank you signal for these little things will brighten someone’s day. By even just taking a moment to thank the checker at the store who always looks out for the kiddos or the mail carrier who offers a smile, kids can change the world in just a couple of seconds. 

thank you card photo: Sirah Quyyom via flickr

2. Keep a Bundle of Kindness Cards to Give Out

The easiest way to send out spontaneous or heartfelt greetings is to make sure you have a stash of cards on hand. Get the kiddos in on it by making a few cards at time: this keeps it fun and creative without feeling like a chore. To get a uniform look but still have the kid-crafted vibe, have your kiddos paint paper with different patterns and then use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes. Glue these to the front of folded drawing or card stock paper. Alternatively, trace shapes directly onto the paper with cookie cutters and let the kids color them in. When the kids have a little down-time and are feeling inspired, have them do a few original drawings and add them to the mix. Whenever you want to send a little note along to someone, the cards are right there at the ready.

birthday box photo: Bakeadar via flickr

3. Birthday Boxes

Making a donation of time or food to a local food shelter is an excellent way to help pay it forward in your community. Contributing to a Birthday Box is the same concept but one children can really connect with. The idea behind these boxes is to make sure all kids can have a fun birthday experience, complete with party hats and cake. For families in need, things like invitations and sprinkles are not extras they can afford. Birthday boxes contain everything a kid needs for their birthday celebration: balloons, cake mix, frosting, candles and more, all donated. Check with your local food shelter or community organization to find out if they have a program like this in place.  Schools across the country often hold Birthday Box drives in place of canned food drives and even have the kids assemble the boxes.

bake sale photo: Kentucky Country Club via flickr 

4. Host a Bake Sale to End Child Hunger

Kids love to bake, and we all love to eat sweets, so what could be more inspiring that holding a bake sale to help end child hunger? No Kid Hungry is a national organization and their program, Bake Sale to End Child Hunger, is as sweet as it sounds. Hold a bake sale in your community and the proceeds are donated back to the organization. Check out their website which includes a Start a Bake Sale form, templates for bake sale flyers, donation letter requests and more. Get other families you know involved!

kid art vision board collage bulletin boardphoto: wooleywonderworks via flickr 

5. Set Up an Inspiration Station

Keep their imaginations active by making sure each kiddo has their own mini inspiration station somewhere in the house. It can be a small section of the wall or a bulletin board hung right at their height, or even a spot on the fridge. The idea is to designate a place where kids can have their own mini vision-board:  wishlists, dreams, happy thoughts, fave photos, beautiful pictures from magazines or anything that sparks their imagination all belong at their inspiration station. It’s a place they can look at that makes them feel happy, calm and creative, and one they can change with a minimum of effort.

free hugs kindness photo: Ricardo Moraleida via flickr 

6. Practice Kindness in Public

Inspire your kids by modeling the kind of behavior you’d like to see in the world. While you might not be ready to doll out the Free Hugs with your littles, there are plenty of other simple gestures like holding doors open for strangers, saying excuse-me if you bump into someone in a store, or asking someone sincerely how they are feeling that day. During the hectic holiday season, these little kindnesses can be extra important. Don’t just stop at common courtesy, though. Try buying a cup of coffee for the person behind you in line, carrying your neighbors groceries to their door or buying flowers for a total stranger. Read this mom’s story about opportunities to show compassion for some added inspiration.

family fun at dinnerphoto: ultraBobban via flickr

7. And at Home

Truthtell: Sometimes families take each other for granted. Which is why it’s key to take some time to revel in each other’s company today. Try staging an elaborate dine-in; take a quick family walk around the neighborhood; or have each family member share one good thing that happened that day. Add appreciating grandparents or extended family to the list, too, by asking them meaningful questions, like the ones here, which you can do over a meal or over the phone. Inspire your kiddos to appreciate one another.

Writing_Kids_credit_826val3photo: 826 Valencia 

8. Tell a Story

Once upon a time there was…a tractor? eating ice cream? Whether it’s fact or fiction, there’s nothing quite like a kid telling their own story. Handwritten, dictated or fully illustrated, encourage your little literati to write a tall tale, or maybe just a recap of their day. Take time to read the story with them after for giggles and that prideful-author feeling. Grab your pencils and a pad of paper and set up a story jar full of prompts to get started! Click here for three easy ideas to write a story with the kids. 

blessing-bag-2photo: the Larson Lingo

9. Put a Blessing in a Bag

Mel from The Larson Lingo inspires families to give back by example. She and her family make what she calls Blessing Bags for the homeless. Gather items like toiletries, new socks, bottled water and more (click here to see Mel’s list) and seal them in Ziplock bags. Add a little note or a cute drawing to give it that special touch. Contact your local homeless shelter (sometimes in smaller towns the local police station or hospital serve as a community liaison) to make the donations. For even more ways to inspire your kids to volunteer, check out this story that includes lemonade stands, sewing blankets and other sweet ideas kids can do from home.  

img_7446photo: Melissa Heckscher

10. A Good Deed Every Day

Get creative with making the world a better place, one small act at a time. Whether you’ve got toddlers, teens or any age in-between, you can create a kindness calendar that suits their age and goals. Go uber-simple and use a regular wall calendar or mark one up out of poster board. All you really need is a chart of days and space to write out one act per day. Make a chic good deed advent calendar you’d be proud to hang in your house or try out a toddler holiday giving calendar for inspiration. Examples of deeds for younger kids include simple things like asking someone at home if they need help; sharing a toy without being asked first; giving out an extra hug and high-fiving mom. Older kids can get more complex: offer to mow someone’s lawn, donate 1 hour to cleaning up the parks, read to an elder at a local retirement home. The good deed possibilities are endless: do what inspires you!

How are your kids inspired to give back to their community and the world? Share your thoughts in a comment below.