1. Be kind
The smallest act of kindness can make such a big difference. Encourage your little one to smile at someone. Give them a compliment. Listen to what they’re saying. Really listen. You never know what’s happening in another person’s life. That smile, that compliment, that moment of just listening and caring about what they say might mean the world to them.
2. Be compassionate
It starts with empathy; teach your child to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. What do they need? How can I help? Then it turns into action. Encourage them to do something for the community. Donate toys, clothes, or food. Help raise money for a cause they believe in. Cut out single-use plastics wherever you can. Think big but take tiny steps. They all add up. Environmental activist Wangari Maathai started by planting seven seedlings just outside Nairobi, Kenya. She’s inspired a worldwide project to plant billions of trees.
3. Be brave
And remind children that bravery doesn’t mean not being scared. It means doing something even if it feels a bit scary at first. Maybe you feel like you don’t know how to do it and you worry about what other people will say. It’s okay. Remember - you don’t know how to do it yet. Start with one small brave thing. Then another. Then another.
4. Believe in something and stand up for it
Show your child that it is ok to stand up for what you believe is fair. Stand up for the planet. Stand up for people who need someone in their corner. That doesn’t mean being loud or rude. You can stand up for what you believe and still be gentle and respectful even if other people are not. As Michelle Obama says, ‘when they go low, we go high’.
5. Follow your dreams
This is an important one for children and grown-ups. Find something you love then go after it with all you’ve got. You might love words, you might love numbers, you might love music or sport. You might love all of these or something completely different. Find something that excites you, something you enjoy. Work at it and see where it takes you.
6. Know that it’s okay to make mistakes
Children need to be taught that there is no shame in messing up. Mistakes are how we learn - it’s how we grow. It’s part of doing something new. All the great scientists know this. Mathematician Alan Turing and his team made so many mistakes before cracking the code for the Enigma machine and saving millions of lives in the Second World War.
Teach children that whether you’re looking for a scientific breakthrough like particle physicist Dr Sau Lan Wu or working on becoming a grandmaster judoka like Keiko Fukuda, there will be challenges to face. Things won’t always go your way. You might not always reach your goal. All you can do is do your best. Stay flexible, stay strong, and keep going.
8. Ask questions
Lots of them. No question is too strange or too silly. This is such an incredible world and there’s so much to learn, so much to understand. Children and adults should never be afraid to ask why, how, what, where, when. The most remarkable discoveries ever made all began with a question.
9. Create something
Anything. Draw, paint, write. Make something. Frida Kahlo expressed herself through her paintings. Judith Kerr did it through words and pictures. Syrian refugee Aeham Ahmad does it through his music.
10. Know that you’re not alone
Being extraordinary isn’t about doing everything by yourself. The most extraordinary people in the world have worked with other people to do amazing things. We can achieve so much and make so much more of a difference when we work together.