15 Easy Ways to Set a Good Example for Your Kid

As you practice good deeds in front of your children, they'll begin to notice and even mirror your actions. Here are simple ways to model kindness.

mom and son hugging
Photo: MoMo Productions/Getty Images

You smile at neighbors, send your friends heart-emoji-filled texts, and cheer on your coworkers. But how many of those friendly actions do your kids see? The more good deeds you practice in front of your children, the more they'll notice and start to mirror those same moves. Here's how to get the ball rolling.

Mail a card to a friend who could use a boost

Supporting a pal through a tough time is friendship 101. Help your kid learn the ropes by picking out a card together, then having them sign their name.

Pay it forward at the grocery store

Fact: Nobody likes waiting in the checkout line—particularly with a hungry brood clamoring for snacks. The next time you hit the grocery store at rush hour, grab some extra treat in the freezer aisle (we like Friendly's Sundae Cups), pay for it, then offer it to whoever's behind you in line. The exciting surprise might help take your kids' minds off of their own impatience, and your generosity will be a nice reminder to your kids to think of others even when they are busy.

Hold the door

We know, we know, you're in a rush. But pausing to hold the door for whoever's a few steps behind you can help your children learn to put others ahead of themselves.

Drop change into the tip jar

Friendliness doesn't always require a giant gesture. Get your children involved—and help the memory stick—by having them deposit the change.

Let someone go in front of you

Putting a stranger's parking lot needs in front of your own demonstrates selflessness, and can remind you to hit pause every once in a while. Try narrating the moment aloud—"please, go right ahead"—to make sure it registers in little ears.

Greet employees when you walk into a store

Treating everyone like a friend helps your kids grasp equality. Plus, it's just polite.

Donate old books and games to those in need

Explain that they're going to a new home to brighten a new child's day, just like they did for your own kids. That transfer of happiness can resonate.

Make cookies for your kids' school's front-office staff

Words are great, but showing you care can sometimes mean taking an extra step. Get children involved in the baking process, then have them deliver the goods with you. Seeing the excitement on their secretary's face can make a lasting memory.

Offer to cut an elderly neighbor's grass, shovel their driveway, or carry large packages

Friends step in when others need help. Even if your little one can't push a shovel yet, offering assistance in front of them sets a great example.

Pay someone a genuine compliment

Taking the time to really notice a skill and point it out can encourage kiddos to do the same. And when they see how you value others' efforts, they might value their own a little more as well.

Thank the school's custodian

It's easy for everyday faces to blend into your kids' backgrounds. Taking the time to thank helpers, like a school custodian or traffic guard, can remind them to notice those around them.

Volunteer for a community event

Get your kids involved in the process by explaining why you're donating your time, and what your actions will do for others.

Show interest in another person's day

True friendliness means really seeing others for who they are. When your kids fill you in on their latest adventures, make eye contact, ask insightful questions, and really listen. The same goes for coffee shop run-ins and playdate pickups. You're showing your kids how to make important connections —and boosting your own relationships, too.

Offer to share your playground snacks

Giving up precious goods may sting for a moment, but getting kids in the habit of sharing can foster generosity — and spark friendships.

Bring dinner to new parents

Taking care of a meal can help make those hectic first few weeks a little easier. Plus, nothing inspires wonder quite like a tiny new person.

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