“I’m feeling flappy,” my five-year-old says, looking up at me. Flappy is our word for feeling restless, or out of sorts, or just not quite right. Whenever that happens, we start by talking about why, but what works better, every time, is hugging him hard, or, failing that, dance parties.
Kids see the signs everywhere — in neighborhoods and social media, in life, in chalk, on cardboard: Black Lives Matter, Hate is Taught, All Mothers Were Summoned When He Called out for His Mama. Little has been done to address racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd in 2020. We need to take action. Talking to kids about racism, especially when they’re young — according to a Healthy Children study, internalized racism can begin as early as age two — is a start.
When my daughter was little and something would scare her, a bee, or a heffalump or a woozle from Winnie the Pooh, she’d freeze in place, unable to move. I started singing her a little song, to the tune of “Accentuate the Positive” that went “Be brave, and keep going.”
What began with 20 million Americans taking to the streets to demand better stewardship of our planet has evolved into a one billion-person-strong global day of action: Earth Day.
As parents, we’re wired to seek safe, healthy environments for our littles. When disaster strikes, whether it’s a pandemic, a fire, or a hurricane, it’s deeply unsettling. A little support can go a long way.
We all tell our kids that we love them, but when was the last time you really talked to your kids about love—what it feels like, how it’s shown, how it relates to the self, the family and the broader world?
In 2015, President Obama shared his thoughts about how books make us better humans:
“When I think about how I understand my role as citizen…the most important stuff I’ve learned, I think I’ve learned from novels. It has to do with empathy…and the notion that it’s possible to connect with someone else even though they’re very different from you.”
Making and keeping friends can be fraught with pitfalls. Some well-timed social-skills reinforcement can go a long way towards boosting the happiness of littles (and their parents!) when it comes to friendship.
Scientific studies seem to roll in daily, confirming that kindness increases oxytocin and dopamine in the brain, making us happier.