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5 Tips for Your Kids Who Want to Make a Difference

Advice

So, your daughter wants to change the world? Great! With a little encouragement from you, she’ll have everything she needs to get started. Here are the five best tips to share with her.

1. Start with heart

girl petting dog

Making a difference is the most fun when she does it out of love and passion. Which of these sounds like your daughter?

  • She wants to be part of a community that matters to her. 
  • She wants to be a leader.
  • She likes using her voice to lift others up.
  • Speaking out about important issues makes her feel confident and strong.
  • She wants to make the world a better place
  • She likes teaching others
  • Helping gives her a sense of purpose
  • She wants to learn more about her community and the world.
  • She wants her community to be safe for everyone.
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All these reasons are worthwhile, and they might change as she gets older. Knowing why she wants to make a difference will help your daughter decide what to focus on.

2. Play to her strengths

girls working on a project

Finding opportunities that suit your girl’s personality and strengths can help her learn to love making a difference. Which of these categories sounds like your daughter?

Super Social

Your girl is a social butterfly. When she speaks to a crowd or even just a few classmates, people listen. She gets her point across in a way that’s easy to understand and does a great job getting others excited when she talks about something important to her. Raising awareness about an issue comes naturally to her because she’s such a great communicator. She might excel at hosting a party that benefits an important issue, spreading the word about her favorite causes, or speaking at fundraisers.

Down to Business

Your girl is an organizer. She’s not afraid to make a plan, roll up her sleeves, and take action. When she’s tackling an issue, she likes to be prepared and efficient. Sometimes that means making a list of everything she needs to do before the end of the week, and other times that means meeting with her school principal to get all the facts before creating a game plan. She might thrive while starting a new club at school that focuses on an important cause, setting up a craft sale, or putting her planning skills to use in other exciting ways like collecting blankets for an animal shelter.

All About Art

Your girl leans toward creativity when she’s problem-solving. Big ideas come to her when she’s doodling, making pottery, or listening to music in her bedroom. Creativity helps her connect with people, and she loves using her artistic skills to tackle important issues or bring happiness to others. She’d shine while crafting fun pins or signs for a march, playing music at a nursing home, or starting a blog or video series.

3. Study up

notebook showing study topic for "save the planet"

It’s important for girls to research the issue they want to focus on before getting started. It might even be fun for her to keep a special notebook where she writes all her ideas and notes.

To learn more about her cause she could:

  • Watch a documentary. 
  • Listen to an activist standing up for the issue.
  • Listen to a podcast.
  • Find others interested in the issue.
  • Talk to an activist involved with the cause.
  • Chat with friends or teachers at school about an issue.

Researching the issue she’s passionate about can lead to amazing discoveries. Maybe she’ll stumble on an organization she’s never heard of before. Maybe she’ll connect with a local leader hosting a fundraiser. There’s so much to uncover!

4. Take it one action at a time

local to global saving the orangutans

Maybe your girl is thinking, Whoa, there’s so much to tackle—I’ll never be able to do all the things I want to! That’s OK! Remind her that small actions can make a world of difference. Even sitting with someone who’s alone at lunch or truly listening to a friend when they share something important can create ripples bigger than she ever imagined. Taking action at home or school can change the world!

Looking at the research she did, help your girl identify small actions she can take every day to make an impact. Let’s say she decided to help save endangered orangutans. Here are some ideas for her to make a difference at home or school, in her community, or on a global scale

At Home and at School

Your girl is a social butterfly. She could share an article about orangutan conservation with her family, friends, and classmates. Raising awareness is a great first step.

In the Community

Together, whip up a batch of homemade lip balm with coconut oil instead of palm oil. (The palm oil industry causes deforestation, which hurts orangutans.) Help her sell the lip balms in her community, such as outside a store or at a craft bazaar. She can give each customer a pamphlet about how to avoid palm oil in everyday products.

On a Global Scale

Encourage her to write a letter to a company that disappointed her by destroying orangutan habitats. The letter can explain why she won’t buy its products and how she’d like the company to change.

Keep brainstorming together! Remind her that small actions can turn into something bigger than she ever thought possible.

5. Get started

girl-cleaning up litter on a beach

Sometimes, girls just need a little push to get started. Help her choose one of these action ideas to jumpstart her activism.

Volunteering:

  • Share her musical talents at a nursing home.
  • Help train a service dog.
  • Sort cans at a food pantry.
  • Clean up walking trails at a park.
  • Rake leaves for an elderly neighbor.
  • Play a game of chess at the senior center.
  • Read to kids at the library.
  • Pick up trash at a local park.
  • Assist at an animal shelter.

Raising Awareness:

  • Join or start a club at school to discuss important issues.
  • Write a blog or create a newsletter to spread the word.
  • Share information with her friends and family.
  • Write a letter to the editor of the local newspaper about issues in her community.
  • Attend a city council meeting about a problem that matters to her, and share her concerns.

Donating

  • Gather needed items for a food drive or for a food pantry.
  • Collect clothing and donate it to a resale store whose profits benefit a charitable organization.
  • Donate gently used toys to a kids’ organization.
  • Gather blankets or towels for a humane society.
  • Collect socks for a shelter for people experiencing homelessness.

Fundraising

  • Sell food or crafts to help her cause.
  • Participate in a 5k run or walk and ask family for pledges to raise money for the cause.
  • Organize a dance party in her community and sell tickets to raise funds.
  • Ask guests to make a donation to her favorite cause instead of bringing her a birthday gift.
  • Ask local businesses to donate goods. Then host a silent auction and donate the proceeds to a cause.

Is she ready to dive in? Help your girl begin in a way that makes the most sense to her. Maybe that means dipping a toe in the water by listening to a podcast about an issue she doesn’t know much about. Maybe it involves wading in and attending her first nature club meeting at school. Maybe she’s ready to dive right in and run a fundraiser in her community. Whatever she chooses, you can help her take the plunge!

For more ideas about how your girl can make a difference in the world, check out A Smart Girl’s Guide: Making a Difference, written by Melissa Seymour and illustrated by Stevie Lewis.
©2020 American Girl. All American Girl marks are trademarks of American Girl.

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