When children are young they love to help, and will be happy to do whatever is asked of them. Cultivating that mindset will be a life-long benefit to them.
However, guiding them to service others is just one more thing to add to your long to do’ list.
How do you find time to serve?
Keep it simple. If a new family moves in down the street, take them a loaf of bread from a nearby bakery. Don’t spend the day making a fancy dessert. Making friends is the real offering
Combine the service with another planned activity. Dropping off a plate of cookies to an elderly neighbor on the way to story time at the library is an easy way to slip a small act of service in with an activity you were going to do anyway.
Choose a project close to home that doesn’t involve extra travel time. Check the local community programs in your area for ideas. You may find something as simple as donating out-grown clothing or toys to a woman’s shelter.
Ask the children about the service they gave.
As you visit the newcomer down the street and the children make new friends, when they watch the elderly neighbor’s eyes light up at the plate of cookies, or see the smile on the woman’s face as you donate used items, talk your children about what happened.
Ask your children to tell you about their feelings.
Always use open-ended questions like:
What was that like for you?
How did it make you feel?
Ask how they perceived the recipient.
How do you think the new neighbors felt?
What did they think of the gift?
How could you tell?
What are some other ways we can help people?
Find a place where there’s a real need.
I have a friend who picks the freshest daisies from her garden, places them in a container, and loads her three small children into the car. Then off she drives to the local assisted living facility. She toddles her children into the center, and they hand a flower to each elderly resident. The children have a great time meeting new people, and they bring such joy to the patients. It’s a win-win situation.
Check with your local care facility. They may not want flowers. Maybe a picture or a small note would be better.
Since my friend’s children are small, going once a month works for her. She says when the kids are older they will go more often.
When you find a way to give to others, your service will come back to you a thousand fold.
“One thing I know. The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” Albert Schweitzer