Let's talk about taking simple portraits. By simple portraits I mean using available light and little to no props. One of the simplest keys is to diffuse your light.
The above shot is lit by a single window diffused with sheer curtain. Window lighting is a naturally gorgeous ambient light although it can be harsh if the sun is streaming in the afternoon. Sheer white curtains will easily solve hot, sunny lighting.
Now I could have got a bounce out to reflect some light to the dark side of his face, but then we are talking simple portraits here. But, if you want to get just slightly more fancy get a bounce. They are not expensive and pretty versatile. The link below is the one we use. You can also use it as a diffuser, which we often do.
This Photo is taken in between two windows perpendicular to each other which creates an equal distribution of light.
Clouds are nature's diffuser making cloudy days good times to get out and take some portraits. The above photo is taken a cloudy, slightly rainy day.
If it's hot and bright out find some shade. The above and below are taken in the shade on a sunny day.
These are some simple ways of diffusing light and you can use these techniques for video too. If you are shooting some pictures or home videos of your kids try shooting in some diffused light.