Laura Coffer, a writer at USA Today put together 5 ways to help teach your children how to serve others, give back and help children understand part of the meaning of life.
1. Teach them to serve rather than be served
One of the best ways to give kids practice in real-world kindness is to serve others. Get the whole family involved to serve people in need. Find opportunities to lend a hand with any place of worship, local scout troops, Habitat for Humanity, animal shelters, nursing homes, even the guidance department at your child’s school. When kids realise the impact they can make by serving and being kind to others, you begin to foster a servant’s heart in them, and that’s a beautiful thing.”
2. Young kids can give clothes and toys away to other kids in need.
When (my toddler) would watch me retire her old clothes, she would get upset. Then I explained to her she isn’t going to use them anymore and other people need them. She really grasped this concept when we gave some clothes and toys to another little girl who lost all of hers in a fire. This was a mixture of not only explaining, but letting her choose which toys she wanted to give away. I reminded her she was being very nice and doing such a good thing for someone else. (Then, she got a little crazy and started grabbing my things (like my car keys) to give away.) Now, she knows that if she wants more toys, we have to clean up some of what she already has and give them to other kids who would like them. There is no reason for her to have everything she has at her age, but I blame the grandparents.
3. Remember the value of foreign-exchange and study-abroad opportunities
How does study abroad or becoming a volunteer host family for a foreign teenager contribute to the development of strong and kind children? It’s because they learn how others think, which makes them realize the world does not always think as they do. They learn how to deal with difficult situations, whether it be through living with someone adjusting to life in a foreign country or through being the student experiencing culture shock themselves. They learn the value of tolerance of other cultures by experience, not just by us telling them that ‘this is the right thing to do.
4. Spring break can be a pivotal time for college students
It shouldn’t have surprised me that my daughter, Emilie, had far different plans (for spring break) than I ever had. She was setting out for a remote location, just not one that would be in any travel magazine.
“Alternative Spring Break’ challenges college students to forego an MTV-style spring break, and spend a week in the poverty-stricken Appalachian region of Kentucky. Along with volunteers from other colleges and universities nationwide, they assisted families, who due to circumstances beyond their control found themselves in desperate need. … This child who used to try anything to get out of doing her chores, performed tasks I would have never expected. She installed decks, insulation, vinyl siding, and even a roof.”
5. Have frank conversations with your kids about kindness, and let them surprise you
This mum decided to talk with her 9-year-old daughter about kindness.
How do Dad and I teach you to be kind?
You teach me how to be kind by showing me when someone isn’t being very kind, you treat them nicely anyway. You treat them how you want to be treated and that’s kindness. Because other adults haven’t been that nice to you. I’ve seen it. And you don’t let it bother you. You just be nice to them. Unless it’s Daddy and you joke around and be fake mean to him. …
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