It was the year 2016. In the United States, it was the year of the Strangest. Election. Ever. We survived it of course, and by that I mean the presidential election finally ended. Hallelujah!
Okay, enough with the melodrama. Still, parents across the nation, regardless of candidate preference, worried about the negative after-effects that such a brutal and divisive campaign might have on their children.
What type of examples were our candidates setting for our children? How could we be proud to call either one of these potential leaders a good role model? They behaved exactly opposite to the values we are trying to teach.
Do you believe that everything we need to know about life we learn in kindergarten? Then you might agree that everything our children learned in kindergarten about honesty, integrity, basic decency, kindness, compassion and the like, may have been unlearned during this rather ugly moment in time.
I’m sure you did your best to shelter your children from the mud-slinging, the name calling, the vitriol, not just between our candidates but between our fellow Americans. However, I don’t happen to know anyone who wasn’t at least a little bit anxious about the potential outcome, on either side of the aisle.
And if you were anxious, then your children most certainly felt it.
So now what?
My vote? It’s time for a refresh. If you are looking for ways to help solidify the positive character traits we want to instill in our children, I’ve gathered up a few resources that you might find helpful. Some of the resources are my own. Others are from people who do an outstanding job of focusing on the good.
Take your pick.
Professional Advice for a Character Building Refresh
Ce Eshelman, LMFT, offers a quick read to help adoptive parents of traumatized children, though I should say these tips apply to any child facing emotional dysregulation. Read Hop, Skip, Jump here.
With a program called “Bloom Your Room ™” Dr. Lynn Kenney helps teachers and parents strengthen their young students’ social emotional literacy. This 15 minute video walks adults through the process of How to have the “Cognitive Conversation” about Kindness with our kids. I love the point that she makes about children opening up a circle to newcomers. I think we grown-ups can learn a thing or two from these lessons as well.
3 articles from the Greater Good Science Center that are well worth a read:
While this one focuses more on college students, the guiding principles can be applied to all ages.
One of the three activities shared in this article uses the children’s book Thank You, Mr. Falkner. Aha! A book that can facilitate gratitude AND appreciate the gravity of learning challenges is one I should definitely add to the IPG Children’s Book Finds list!
If you like brain research like I do, you’ll find this one rather interesting.
While the typical focus here at IPG is on improving and strengthening learning abilities, we know that a grateful brain is a brain more primed for learning.
Sometimes I veer away from my typical cognitive skill-building exercises to create activities that support gratitude and kindness. While these are typically popular around Thanksgiving time, I believe now more than ever we need to reinforce these concepts all year round.
Here’s what you’ll find in this Gratitude Printables Roundup:
- An all season printable Thank You Card that kids can cut, color, and deliver.
- Gratitude Bingo Game. This one’s perfect for laminating. Bring it out anytime you need and the kids need an emotional lift.
- Gratitude Journal for Kids. As you know by now, science strongly supports this healthy habit. (See the Gratitude Acrostic Poem link below.)
- The Gratitude Game. Simply print the game board and roll the die. Empathy plays a big role in this one.
- Gratitude Acrostic Poem. Stimulate gratitude AND creativity in one simple writing activity. Includes an update on gratitude research.
Since publishing that roundup, I’ve added even more gratitude themed printables for you:
100 Gratitude Prompts for Kids of All Ages. Are you finding it harder and harder to be grateful these days? Use these prompts to stimulate those gratitude muscles once again.
Printable Garden of Kindness. A fun way to encourage kids to be kind to one another. Now more than ever I think this one’s even more important than gratitude. Would you agree?
You’ll gain access to all of these printable activities and more by signing in (if you’re already a subscriber) or signing up in the box at the end of this post.
Character Building Children’s Books
Many of the books in the IPG collection of Children’s Book Finds will both inspire children and guide them toward their better selves. These are just some of the pertinent titles you may recognize among my personal reviews:
7 Habits of Happy Kids
How Full is Your Bucket
Some Things Are Scary
Making Friends is an Art
Character Building Quotes (for Kids and Adults)
Care for a few fitting, illustrated quotes? Try these:
What’s that? You want more quotes? Okay, check out the Inspirational Quotes category here.
I think that’s a good start, but if you want even more character building resources, check out my Pinterest board “Kids, Confidence and Character.”
Fear not, parents and educators. Your kids have you. With a bit of a refresh, all that you taught them about gratitude, kindness, empathy and compassion will return in a blink.