All Posts By:

Brittany Doyle

  • Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy

    As a child, my parents recited the old adage “treat others the way they want to be treated” often. This message has resonated throughout my life in situations where I feel triggered or compelled to jump to conclusions. It’s important that my children understand the values of empathy and why it should be employed in our social interactions and relationships.

    In fact, years from now when I look back on the job I’ve done as a parent, I will measure my success in the amount of kindness radiating from my kids.

    FREE PRINTABLES BELOW!

    Let’s define empathy as the attempt to understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, and condition from his or her point of view, rather than from one’s own.

    Empathy allows children to assess how others are feeling and respond appropriately. In the age of bullying, it’s vital to the health of our youngest generation to understand and practice empathy and tactful sensitivity. By teaching children to look outward and identify with the experience of others, we can cultivate kindness and foster compassion.

    Below is a printable learning activity, a printable call to action and a list of picture books to help children explore the value of empathy and grow kindness. We hope you make full use of our simple methods for teaching kids kindness and empathy, and in doing so, make the world a better place.

    Wrinkled Heart Learning Activity

    Start with an unwrinkled heart. Have your child cut it out. Explain negative speak and give examples. With each negative phrase, fold the heart until it is completely wrinkled. Discuss how hurtful words can cause another person harm and are not easily forgotten. Lastly, explain that once something is communicated, it can not be retracted, in the same way the heart cannot be unwrinkled.

    A few more talking points:

      • Explain why it is important to think before you speak
      • Talk to your children about the struggles that others go through
      • Have a conversation about how the different life experiences of others can explain their actions
      • Teach them that words can hurt and have consequences
      • Discuss how speaking with care and sensitivity could save someone pain and suffering

    Random Acts of Kindness Jar

    Help children learn to derive pleasure from the happiness of others with this simple and impactful activity. Use the label to create a random acts of kindness jar. Cut the acts of kindness into small strips and fold them up. Then place them in the jar. Every morning (or week, month, whatever works for your family) have your child pull one of the strips from the jar and complete the act of kindness. Watch as they grow in their desire to give and pay it forward.

    Books that Teach & Inspire Empathy

    There is no better method for delivering a message to a child than via picture book. Research indicates that reading improves a child’s emotional intelligence and increases empathy. Be sure to check out the following reads:

    How Full is Your Bucket?

    Each of us has an invisible bucket. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful. Yet most children (and many adults) don’t realize the importance of having a full bucket throughout the day. Felix learns how every interaction in a day either fills or empties his bucket. He then realizes that everything he says or does to other people fills or empties their buckets as well. Follow along with Felix as he learns how easy it can be to fill the buckets of his classmates, teachers and family members. Before the day is over, you’ll see how Felix discovers that filling someone else’s bucket also fills his own.

    The Last Stop on Market Street

    Every Sunday after church, CJ and his grandma ride the bus across town. But today, CJ wonders why they don’t own a car like his friend Colby. Why doesn’t he have an iPod like the boys on the bus? How come they always have to get off in the dirty part of town? Each question is met with an encouraging answer from grandma, who helps him see the beauty—and fun—in their routine and the world around them. Help children walk a mile in another’s shoes and gain a different perspective with this award winning read.

    The Invisible Boy

    Meet Brian, the invisible boy. Nobody ever seems to notice him or think to include him in their group, game, or birthday party until a new kid comes to class. When Justin, the new boy, arrives, Brian is the first to make him feel welcome. And when Brian and Justin team up to work on a class project together, Brian finds a way to shine. From esteemed author and speaker Trudy Ludwig this gentle story shows how small acts of kindness can help children feel included and allow them to flourish.

    We hope you’ve enjoyed our Simple Methods for Teaching Kids Kindness and Empathy. Looking for more on early childhood development? Be sure to read our small steps for Raising Confident Kids.



    teaching kids empathy

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  • 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health – FREE Printable Included

    As someone who has experienced generalized anxiety for most of my life, I’ve always understood the importance of a solid mental health routine. But since becoming a mother and suffering through a severe bout of postpartum depression, I’ve prioritized self-care in an even larger effort to bolster my mood, remain energized & be the best version of myself for my kids.

    It’s amazing what a few simple practices can do for the mind, especially when organized on a weekly task list designed for the modern woman with a thousand items on the mental plate. Let’s dive right in to these 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health. Don’t forget to download the free printable below!

    Picture of 7 Simple Practices for Boosting Mental Health

    Motivation

    For my Monday focus (because seriously, Mondays are the pits) I like to think motivation, and nothing gets me motivated like setting a goal for myself. Setting goals gives you longterm vision. It offers purpose, direction and something to achieve and work towards. I’m a huge believer in striving for more and continuous improvement.

    To put it plainly, achievement equals confidence. The goal doesn’t have to be anything monumental, but it has to be measurable and attainable. Once you set your goal and visualize it in your mind, write it down. Make it real. Begin planning first steps towards achievement, and use your Mondays to apply yourself towards it.

    Self-Care

    To be honest, I could go for self-care any day of the week. If you choose just one of these practices to implement in your weekly routine, let it be self-care.

    Treat yourself to a pedicure, exfoliate, set aside 20 minutes to meditate. Self-care looks different for everyone, so do what works for you. It’s important to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself in order to boost positive feelings and self-esteem.

    Digital Detox

    This one is probably the most straight forward yet hardest to accomplish, but I promise its worth it. Turn off that phone/television/computer for an evening and go screen free. Read a book, play a game, listen to a podcast.

    Picture of Rockitmama Free Mental Health Task List Printable

    See below!

    Organize/Purge

    Free your mind of clutter, quite literally! When the environment around us is chaos, it can be difficult to feel in control. Pick one item in your house/office/room that needs a good cleanse. Tackle that overflowing junk drawer or delete excess emails in your inbox.

    This could also apply to a toxic individual in your life that doesn’t contribute to your happiness and should be kindly removed. Release them. Talk about a mental refresh!

    Energize

    Everyone energizes in different ways. Maybe its socializing with friends or grabbing some fresh air. Perhaps it’s binge watching the latest Netflix series after a long week at work or catching up on sleep.

    Find the best way for you to re-energize for the weekend and make that your focus for Friday.

    Health

    Saturdays are focused on physical health which we all know, deeply impacts us mentally. I use Saturdays to get my long runs in for exercise, but again it doesn’t have to be that daunting. Make a healthy meal, meal plan for the week or take a yoga class at the gym.

    Focus on yourself physically, and the benefits to the mind will follow.

    Gratitude

    On long, exhausting, frustrating days with my boys (lets be honest we all have them) there is one thing I lean on to pull me through: Gratitude.

    I started practicing intentional gratitude after my first was born in an attempt to ease my anxiety. Quickly I learned that when I regularly took time to give thanks and share a sense of abundance around me, I attracted a goodness that elevated my mood and carried me through the day.

    I encourage journaling these feelings of gratitude to really drill down on the good in your life & to help make it a habit.



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  • Happy Earth Children’s PRINTABLE Earth Day Activity

    As a self-proclaimed tree hugger it’s important to me that my kids understand the importance of Earth Day and why it’s vital to the future of our planet to set aside time to care for it. This activity is a simple and effective way to have that teachable moment on what keeps Earth healthy and thus, happy. On the opposite side, it highlights the actions that impact our environment in a negative way.

    Watch as they sort & learn the small ways we can reduce and reuse to protect our precious planet. We’ve included the FREE Happy Earth Children’s Earth Day Activity printable. It’s available for download at the bottom of this post. Happy Earth Day!

    Picture of Happy Earth Printable activity for Earth Day learning and creating.

    You will need:

    • Scissors
    • Glue
    • Blue or green construction paper
    • The Rock It Mama Earth Day printable (Two-page download at the bottom of post)

    Directions

    Glue the sorting chart page on either the green or blue construction paper for aesthetic purposes. Next, cut the two earths first and have your child distinguish between the happy earth vs. the sad earth. Glue both earths on the top of each side of the T chart.

    As each graphic is cut out, have a conversation about the picture and what is taking place. Explain why each picture either makes the Earth happy or sad based on what is occurring. Lastly, have them glue the graphic on the correct side of the T chart.

    Cutting Happy Earth printable for Earth Day learning activity.

    Just look at that focus! (Insert heart eyes)

    He’s well on his way to becoming a passionate environmentalist. Need more fun ideas for appreciating nature and the world around us? Add these 7 Nature and Exploration Ideas for Kids to your list!



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  • Fun Valentine’s Day Themed Activities for Preschoolers

    I call this time of year the winter lull. We’re post holiday season, mostly cooped up indoors, and running out of ideas to keep the littles even mildly entertained. When I’m all out of options and in serious need of a fresh activity to keep my preschooler occupied, I turn to something creative or crafty, and perhaps sensory in nature. And because I’m all about themes, I try to connect the activity to the time of year, which is why these Fun Valentine’s Day themed activities ideas are centered around our favorite February holiday.

    So mama, if you’ve found yourself in a similar boat and the kids are in dire need of a new interest (and for you a moment of silence) give these Fun Valentine’s Day themed activities for preschoolers a whirl, and make sure to tell us what you think in the comments below!

    1. Love Soup

    I LOVE this Valentine themed sensory activity that you can potentially piece together without even leaving the house! Let your child pretend to create cups of “Love soup” with the colored water and foam hearts. Caution: it may get wet!

    You will need:

    • A plastic bin filled with water
    • Red food coloring
    • Foam hearts
    • Heart themed cups
    • Kitchen utensils (for pouring and measuring)
    • Towel for clean up

    It’s important to note that while participating in this Love Soup sensory activity, children build skills in many different areas. Measuring and guesstimating amounts can be applied to math and science. Socially, kids can develop team-working skills. Sensory play can also be used as a calming tool & distraction for tantrums. It also provides your child an opportunity to explore their senses – touch, sight, sound (even smell & taste if you want to go there) while they simultaneously learn and discover. Cheap, easy to make, and a stimulating experience right at home. Yum!

    2. Love Monster Book & Craft

    This children’s book is one of my favorites for the Valentines Day Holiday and has a wonderful message about sharing with friends and the joys of giving. Crafts involving characters are a great way to get your kids excited about reading materials. You can purchase Love Monster and the Last Chocolate here!

    You will need:

    • 1 Paper Plate (per craft)
    • Red Tissue Paper
    • Glue
    • Kid Friendly Scissors
    • Red/White/Black Colored Cardstock

    Directions:

    • First cut your red tissue paper into small squares
    • Put a good amount of glue all over your paper plate
    • Have your child place the tissue paper on top of the glue, until the paper plate is completely covered
    • While your child is working on that, cut out the other “love” monster embellishments from the cardstock. Think eyes, ears, mouth etc.
    • To finish the Love Monster themed kid craft – glue on the facial features to the paper plate and display proudly

    3. Heart Hunt

    This one is excellent for releasing some of that pent up energy! Hide the hearts around your home (much like an easter egg hunt) and have your child perform the exercise listed on each heart as they’re discovered. To keep it interesting, offer a prize at the end once all of the hearts have been collected! I used simple actions like “jump on one foot” and “sing the ABCs” but feel free to cater it to activities your little can execute.

    You will need:

    • Foam or paper hearts of various colors (foam will hold up better but I used paper since I already had it)
    • Marker

     

    And there you have it! The Heart Hunt. We hope these fun Valentine’s Day themed activities for preschoolers help to liven the mood in your household and offer a switch to your normal routine!

    Another super sweet idea for Vday fun: Homemade Air Fryer Donuts!

     

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  • 8 Ways to Pay it Forward this Holiday Season

    Charitable pro-tip: you don’t have to have to be a billion dollar philanthropist to make the world a better place. While the holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on the best aspects of our lives, it can be easy to forget our community members in need.

    As my oldest is becoming more aware of the world around him, it’s increasingly important to me that he understands the true meaning of Christmas and the power of giving. Below we’ve compiled 8 easy (child friendly) ways to bring meaning to your holiday season.

    Toy drive

    Toys for tots is a wonderful organization specializing in toy collection.  Every year dedicated United States Marines and local volunteers host a nationwide campaign to deliver Christmas to millions of less fortunate children. You can find a nearby toys for tots chapter here.

    Sponsoring a family in need is another great way to pay it forward. In lieu of our secret Santa gift exchange one year, my girlfriends and I sponsored a family and each of us selected a child to buy for.  When it was all said and done the entire family had gifts to open on Christmas morning. If you’re interested in getting involved in this incredibly rewarding form of donation, click here.

    Coat drive

    Give the gift of warmth this winter. Clean out the closet and donate old coats and jackets to a homeless or battered women’s shelter. For many Americans living below the poverty line, a new warm coat is considered a budget extra.

    When the time comes that your kids have grown out of their winter gear, consider donating to a coat drive such as the one facilitated by One Warm Coat.

    Canned food drive

    Nonperishable food drives are happening everywhere this time of year. Pick up some extra canned foods during the weekly grocery run and drop them off at a food bank, church or any center accepting canned food donations.

    Also, check with your child’s school, as many collect canned food around the holidays as well.

    Donate Toiletries

    Many people forget the need for hygiene products at shelters and deliver food-oriented goods instead. Its always a great idea to check in with the center and find out what products are in demand.

    Think toilet paper, toothpaste, feminine hygiene, diapers, etc. Another fun way to gather supplies is to host a “toiletry drive”. Have friends come over and bring hygiene product donations and watch the goods pile up.

    Help a Neighbor

    As the old homage goes “Love thy neighbor” and what better time to show kindness than the holiday season, and hint, it doesn’t always have to be in the form of baked goods.

    Maybe your neighbor needs their driveway shoveled or some help with the pets while they travel. It never hurts to ask if there’s anything you can do to help out. There’s also a good chance your good deed will be reciprocated!

    Give Blood

    Donating blood and platelets costs literally nothing, sans maybe an hour or two of your time, and the gift is potentially life saving.

    Look for posters advertising local blood drives or stop by a blood donation center to ensure blood supply for ongoing patient needs and unforeseen trauma situations.

    Volunteer at an Animal Shelter

    Let’s not forget our furry friends. If adoption is just completely out of the question (I mean, what better gift for your loved one than a puppy) volunteer some of your spare time at a local animal shelter.

    Help with dog walking, cleaning or donate pet food and toys. Some shelters will even let you bring home a pet for the holidays so they don’t have to spend this special time of year alone. Our animals deserve love too.

    Start at Home

    Our children are the fingerprints we leave on the world when we’re gone. It is vital to instill the values of kindness, empathy and compassion on the generation we are raising. Kids can be taught with explanation and led by example. Paying for a stranger’s coffee or helping a friend move may seem like simple acts of generosity, but when our children are watching, it is possible to impress upon them a lifelong commitment to kindness and benevolence.

    Do society a favor and get your kids involved in philanthropy early and often. For more information be sure to look into The Kindness Campaign.

    Looking for a quick act of kindness? Check out this sweet, small gift. DIY Scrabble Tile Ornament

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  • 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day

    I seriously feel bad for Thanksgiving.

    I mean, every year we’re driven to leap into Christmas (or whatever your celebration!) and bypass Turkey day. It’s almost as if we will eventually dismiss the Holiday all together.

    In recent years, I’ve tried to give Thanksgiving its due recognition, but I’m ashamed to admit I’m guilty of pulling out the Christmas gear in the second week of November.

    Alfie the Elf on the Shelf has already graced us with his presence. The tree is up, Santa’s face is plastered everywhere, the stockings are hung tenderly with care…you get it.

    Because it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the magic of the holiday season, we’ve listed 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day that’ll allow you to fully acknowledge Turkey day, and perhaps begin a new tradition with the ones you love.

    Picture of 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day

    1. Volunteer

    What could be more appropriate on a day designated for giving than to volunteer and give back to the community. I like this idea because you can put in a few hours of the day volunteering for an organization you’re compelled to get involved with and still have time to feast and drink as you desire. If you’re looking for local charities and non-profits this is a great resource. A couple of tips:

    • Choose a cause you’re passionate about
    • Find an opportunity that matches your skills, interest and schedule

    Volunteering can also be as simple as visiting a nearby senior center or donating goods to a local food bank. Usually in need of assistance, hospitals offer a variety of volunteer opportunities suitable for all ages. I hope to incorporate this idea into our future Thanksgiving plans when my boys get older. It always feels good to pay your good fortune forward.

    2. Turkey Trot

    Want to go for seconds and thirds guilt free this Thanksgiving? The average American will consume 3,000 calories on Turkey day (and honestly you should because, duh, it’s Thanksgiving!). An awesome way to kick off the day and burn some pre-meal calories is to run a turkey trot! My husband and I did this a few years ago and I have to say, indulging was that much sweeter after a solid 10k. You can find fun races in your area using this convenient tool.

    Turkey trots range in size from a just a few runners to thousands. The organizations hosting the event usually use the entrance fee to fund local charities and in some races the 1st place prize is a frozen turkey! Dust off those running shoes and get trotting!

    3. Celebrate Native American Culture

    If you’ve never been, I highly recommend a day trip to the National Museum of the American Indian! I find it immensely important to educate myself and my family on Indigenous People and their many contributions to  modern day society. You can find Native influence in our arts, agriculture, and even modern medicine.

    Make it a quest to discover local tribes or plan a trip to a reservation. Try a Native recipe. Watch a movie starring Native actors. Here is a great list of children’s books to help explain a history that is often depicted inaccurately in school teachings and otherwise.

    4. Get Away

    And I don’t mean to your Great Aunt Linda’s house to have an uncomfortable political discussion at Thanksgiving dinner that ends in hurt feelings and family in-fighting! It is 100% okay to ditch the gatherings and do your own thing. Maybe you need a getaway. You’ve likely been rewarded extended time off for the holiday, so why not use that time to explore?

    Head to NYC for the annual parade or pick a city you’ve never visited. Not into the crowds? Numerous secluded resorts countrywide offer Thanksgiving deals to travelers who, like you, need an alternative. Plenty of awesome destinations and fresh ideas offered up right here. I’d also advise bringing a friend or two to make it a Friendsgiving trip!

     5. Game Time

    Some of my favorite memories from childhood Thanksgivings is playing football with my cousins and family after our feast. It became such a tradition that a trophy was made for the winning team each year. So fun!

    Whatever game you play, because it certainly doesn’t matter, make it light and fun and try and get everyone involved! Play a board game, create a scavenger hunt, or enjoy a round of cards. Pro tip: Put the electronics down and get back to the basics!

    We hope you’ve been inspired by one of our awesome ideas for Thanksgiving Day and decide to include it in your Turkey day festivities. We wish you a Happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

    If you enjoyed our 5 Awesome Ideas for Thanksgiving Day don’t forget to create The Grateful Tree!

    The Best Thanksgiving Traditions

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