No matter their age or ability, every human being longs to feel useful and needed. As parents, it is our job to nurture this innate desire in our children and teach them the joy of service to others. It should begin at a very young age as we naturally seek their help around the house with small chores.
From picking up toys or bringing mommy a diaper for the new baby, a toddler can be shown the fun of helping others. This requires patience on the part of parents, as little hands are slow and awkward and the task may not be done to your exacting expectations. Take a deep breath, and for your children’s sake (and the sake of your sanity), let those unrealistic expectations go.
As children grow we add daily or weekly chores for them to accomplish. We show them how to do the chore and may even help them a time or two, but the goal is to have a task they can complete on their own. This builds independence and self-esteem.
If you have older children, engage them in teaching the younger one how to perform the chore. This builds feelings of accomplishment in both children. It is important to teach our children to work together with people of all ages and abilities. In doing so, they can learn patience and compassion for others.
Begin teaching in the home, then branch out to your church family, your school and community. Many churches and communities have “service days” each year. Involve your whole family. Make it a tradition that your family takes part every year together. The picture above is of my sister and two of her grandchildren on a Memorial Day when our extended family worked together to clean up and beautify our family cemetery plot. She is teaching her grandchildren to enjoy serving others. The kids loved it!
The best way to teach servanthood is to model it in your everyday life. Your children are watching you every day as you work around your home and care for your family. If you exhibit a poor attitude and a complaining spirit, don’t be surprised if that is the attitude your children develop.
Studies link mental and physical benefits to service to others. Don’t forget this important part of training your children. You will find great satisfaction in working together as a family to serve others.
Here are a few organizations that give ideas for teaching the joy of serving others to children: