I think we’d all agree that our world is in a good bit of turmoil. There is a worldwide pandemic, the resulting economic concerns, racial turmoil, and political unrest. How do we process all the tension and unkindness with our kids? As parents, it’s our job to help our kids process current events and navigate the world around them. So, in a time with such unrest and unkindness, let’s help our kids move forward in kindness. Let’s help our kids learn to serve others.
Why does this matter?
Well, the best way to combat the dark is to bring in some light! While we may not be able to influence the entire world, we can affect the people directly around us. We’ve all heard of ways that one person can make a difference. There are countless stories of teachers, mentors, neighbors, family members, employers, and everyday people who have made a difference. Their kindness and help really did change someone’s world.
These kindnesses have a ripple effect. Think of the young man who was given a second chance and then goes back to help other kids who have messed up get another chance. Or the successful professional who gives credit to that one teacher, and then that teacher, in turn, gives to support students. There are people who are changing the world around them because of how a supportive person has helped them out. We’ve all heard inspiring stories like this.
How to Start with Young Children
Start at home
Even very young children can learn to serve other people. Our little ones can begin learning this lifestyle by helping at home. Serving your family is a great place to start. You can hand a young child pieces of clothing to throw into the dryer. Children can learn to clean up. They can clear their dishes, and even put some clean dishes away.
While these are just regular chores, we can teach our kids that we are helping each other when we do these things. We can present any home responsibilities as ways we can help each other.
Show them by example
Another way to teach young children to serve is to model it for them, and let them be involved. Bake cookies for a neighbor and have your child help you deliver them. Explain how we did this to make our neighbor smile. Bring a meal to someone who is having a rough time, and explain to your children how this meal will help them. Show your kids how to hold the door for someone else, or how to smile at people who walk by.
As your children get older, you can provide them more opportunities to help other people. Volunteer together in your community. Shovel your neighbor’s driveway. Let your kids see you listening and learning. Show them how to hear a different perspective without responding unkindly. Show them how to be friends with people who are different from you. And then expect them to be good friends, to be difference-makers in their social groups.
Your example and teaching really will make a difference. And then, how encouraging it is when another parent lets you know how welcoming your kid has been to theirs when they were new. And you’ll see the ripple effect when another child makes crafts for her friends because of the fun craft your kid made for them. How wonderful to see the effects they are having on their own little worlds. It’s really is worth it to help your kids learn to serve others.
Make serving part of your lifestyle
So try to find ways to make serving and helping part of your family’s lifestyle. Let your kids see you being a friend to someone in need, and then help them feel confident in doing the same in their circles. Teach your kids that we are helpers, and that we look for ways to help. Notice and point out how other people may be feeling, and teach them to notice other people’s feelings too.
Signing can be a wonderful tool as you teach your children to notice things and to help others. It’s a great way to communicate a need you see to your children without making a big deal. Check out our Signing Time dictionary for over 400 ASL signs you can use with your kids.