By Rachel B, Contributing Writer
We’re all born selfish, aren’t we? But that isn’t how I want my kids to grow up. I want my kids to grow up learning how to put others’ needs above their own, but that means they first need to know how to recognize the needs of others and how to respond to those needs. What better time and place to help my children develop those skills than while they are still at home under my care?
3 Ways to Help Your Kids Help Others
1) Put Together a Necessities Bag.
We did this as a group project for a Community Night with our church a couple months ago, and it is definitely something my kids and I will continue. We filled quart size zipper bags with things that people in need might use regularly. We keep them in our car and hand them out when we see people standing on street corners. We just ran out the other day, so it’s time to make some more!
Some examples of helpful items to put in the bags are:
- Non-perishable food. Granola bars, beef jerky, and single-serve cups of soup are great options.
- Personal care items such as a bar of soap, hand sanitizer, a comb, and a travel tooth brush and tooth paste
- First aid items including bandaids and a small tube of antibiotic cream
- Miscellaneous items such as a small package of tissues and lip balm
2) Have Your Children Donate Their Own Money to a Charity of Their Choice
Any time my children get their allowance or earn other money I have them set apart a separate portion to be given away. I allow them to decide where it goes so they can take ownership of choosing how and when to give their hard-earned money to those in need.
Recently we had a family friend come for dinner and he shared with our family his recent jump from the business world into full-time missions serving at-risk teens in our area. Independently, my 3 children all decided to donate their tithe money (and one even pitched in a bit of spending money as well) because they had listened to him talking at the dinner table and caught his passion for the work he is doing. Last month we went to a presentation given by a friend who is a missionary in Haiti who works with children there, and my kids chose to donate some money to her as well. Again, they caught her passion and responded to the call to donate financially.
One important note here is that it is important to expose our kids to the needs around them. Our kids will not have the opportunity to donate to these people if they don’t know the needs exist.
3) Make Scarves and Hang Them Around Town
I got 2 big pieces of fleece from the fabric store and had my kids help cut it into strips and then cut some fray in the ends. We ended up with approximately 10 scarves.
We wrote notes and attached one to each scarf, and we set out in our minivan.
We know a few places in our area where we have regularly seen people holding cardboard signs, so we hung the scarves up there. Get your kids involved in this! They are paying attention. My daughter reminded me of a corner I had not thought of and we ended up leaving 2 scarves there.
We also saw 2 different men standing on the side of the road with signs as we were out distributing the scarves, and we were blessed to have the opportunity to hand a scarf to each man and talk with him for a minute. One man mentioned how much his girlfriend would love the scarf I handed him at first, so we were able to give him a second scarf so they could each have one. In the other case, we had to drive ahead a bit and then turn back around to continue on our planned route, and when we passed the man a second time he was already wearing his new scarf. That was one of the most touching moments of my life. It was 4 degrees outside that day here in Minneapolis, and that man was a bit warmer because of a cozy scarf my beautiful children had made.
As we were driving around that day, I had the opportunity to talk with my children about showing God’s love to others in tangible ways. They learned a new word that day and also seemed to really grasp the concept.
How Are You Teaching Your Children to Think of Others in a “Me, Me, Me” World?
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