Teaching Children to Look Out, Not In

Teaching our children the value of caring and serving others is a responsibility of parenting. A healthy family cares for more than themselves. One of the things we need to teach our children is that the world does not revolve around them. In this age of social media we are continually taking pictures of ourselves, posting what we are eating or doing, putting our thoughts online for all to see and glorifying every aspect of our lives. Really people, we are not that important. We need to show our family that although we love and value each other, there are other people that our lives can reach and touch and we can have an impact.

We can teach our children to reach out to more than each other. How can we do this? The ways to do this are many and they change as the child grows. When a child is young we can remind them of the needs of others and role model service. Involve them in making  a meal or a card for someone in need. For example if you learn that your neighbor just had surgery or lost a loved one then bring them dinner and have your child make a card. Then deliver this together. Look for opportunities to serve those around you.

Another possible project is going through your child’s clothes or toys and then take them and donate to an organization in your community. Try to show them where their donation is going and how it is helping. As the child gets older then they can do more to help, possibly volunteering for a service day to clean up the beach or clean the house of someone in need.

This is not something that you can just require of your child but it needs to be a way of life for the whole family. Something you all consider and do. You are the first example of this for them. They hear that you are putting value on this and so they will learn this too. As they get older there will probably be push back where they would rather sleep in than go to serve. But this is not optional in your family. If you can show them that this is a way of life for your family then they will learn to see that life does not only revolve around them, there are others with needs and serving others can put life in perspective.

There is value in teaching children to be sensitive to the needs of others and exposing them to a larger world. They will learn of the struggles and needs of others. They will meet different types of people, they will learn to consider others and take the focus off themselves.

Written by Lisa Strong

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