Welcome to my 10 week series of Teaching Children The Life Skills They Need To Succeed! This series was developed after I wrote the post 10 Life Skills Every Child Needs To Succeed Before Leaving The Home which has been my most popular post written on this blog.
Each week I will be taking one of the life skills and breaking it down into ways for parents to teach these life skills at home. I will do my best to include fun, practical ways to implement the life skills into everyday life and with different ages of children. (I know as a mommy of 5 how hard it is to try to cram something else into your already busy life!)
As parents, we have the privilege of being our children’s first teachers. How we live and act will make impressions on our children that will last their entire lifetime. It is a tremendous gift to teach our children the skills they will need to succeed as adults. In order to shape our children, we must live the life we are trying to teach.
The skill we are focusing on this week is to love and serve others and the community. I included this skill on my list for several reasons. One of the reasons I feel that teaching our kids to serve is because we live in a self-absorbed society. By reaching out to others, we are teaching our kids compassion and acceptance for others who may have less than we do and live in different circumstances than we do. My kids recently saw one of their first examples that we live differently than others when we took a family vacation to Denver and they saw a homeless person. They wanted to know what was on his sign, why he was standing by the street, etc. It was eye opening as a parent to see their innocence. By serving others our kids learn responsibility. They learn to reach out to those around them and form bonds with others who are also serving (including your own family) and also with those that are being served. This brings people and communities together and will also bring your family closer as well.
One great way of influencing our children is to teach them to serve others as a family. Remember, your attitude speaks volumes on how your children will go about this. If you complain that you don’t want to, the children will do the same thing. If you approach each opportunity to serve positively, so will your children. Your attitude makes a difference!
Here are some ideas on teaching your children how to serve others:
- Visit a nursing home. Have the kids take along some of their artwork to give away. Let them showcase their talents, whether it’s singing a song, doing a magic trick, telling a joke, or playing an instrument.
- Wrapping presents for elderly friends. My Grandma struggles with arthritis and wrapping has always been difficult for her. Many older people have struggles similar to this and it would be a nice blessing to help them wrap their gifts.
- Draw names within your children and have them “treat” the other child throughout the day in secret. It might be doing a chore for their sibling, picking up their toys, or putting their clean clothes away.
- Take hot chocolate to the Salvation Army Bell Ringers.
- Offer to clean up after an event at church or an organization that you belong to.
- Donate toys to a charity who will give them to needy children.
- Gather up hats, mittens, and winter clothing for people in need.
- Adopt a highway and pick up the trash, or do it on a smaller scale and do an area of the park they like to play at. When I was growing up, every Earth Day my family would go out on our farm and clean up any trash, broken toys, etc. to clean up our farm. Even though that was at our own home, it taught my brother and I to take care of the environment and our impact on what we do even at our own home.
- Help neighbors put up and take down their holiday decorations.
- Take balloons or small treats to children in the hospital. (I was in the hospital several times as a child, usually around the holidays, and it was such a treat when people remember you!) These treats could include fun socks, art supplies, fun things from the dollar section of your favorite store, or even a card game.
- Write letters Compassion International Children. Let your kids decide what to write about!
- Send letters to missionaries over seas, people who are sick or fighting a disease, or a friend who might like a smile.
- Send letters to service men and women thanking them for their sacrifices. You could also include care packages with fun items inside. Be creative and let the kids help!
- Pack Operation Christmas Child boxes.
- Collect food for the food pantry.
- Deliver a meal to a family who is struggling.
- Visit the animal shelter! Ask them what they need and offer to help. It may be treats for the dogs, playing with the animals, or volunteer time at the shelter.
- Play secret Santa to a family who is struggling.
- Ask your neighbor how you can help whether it’s walking their dog or helping pull weeds in their garden.
- Grow extra produce in your garden and give it away to others. Have the kids help with the tending of the garden and then bagging it for who you are giving it to.
- Donate items to the homeless shelter, a local woman’s shelter, your local school who can give to the families who need in most (in our area there is a charity where they give back packs to needy families and fill those backpacks with nonperishable foods, clothing such as underwear, socks, or whatever is needed, or school supplies) or children’s home.
- Donate to Samaritan’s Purse.
- Have a day of running errands and as you are about to leave, make sure they thank the waitress, grocery store clerk, bank teller, receptionist, etc for their work they did that day.
- Take a treat to their teacher, just because she or he is great!
- Take a tray of cookies or snacks to local firemen or police officers.
- Leave a treat for your mail person.
- Pray for the poor.
- Take treats to your staff at church, medical clinic, or local 4-H office and thank them for all they do.
- Play a game and see how many compliments they can give one another in 5 minutes.
- Work as a family for a charity serving a holiday meal to those less fortunate.
- Invite someone to your family church celebration who may not have family close or have someone to take them.
- Pray for a specific family every night at dinner.
Here are a just a few ideas on how to teach gratitude:
- Before they can even write, teach them how to write thank-you notes. You can do this by having them draw a picture of what they received and then you can write the words out for them.
- Make a “Thankful Tree.” During November we make a tree and each day add a leaf with something that each kid is thankful for. By the end of the month the tree is overflowing, the answers get interesting, and we’ve bonded as a family doing it!
- Talk about how blessed your family is and because of that, how your family can help others.
- When you pray around the table, have each person say one thing they are grateful for.
How does your family serve together?
Did you miss a week of this series?