Community service. Collect cans for the local food bank, work in a soup kitchen as a family or visit children or other patients in a hospital. These actions reinforce in your kids the importance of doing good work, helping people in need and engaging meaningfully with others.
Love your neighbor. Even an invitation for lemonade and homemade cookies is an opportunity to teach planning and social skills to children. Ask them to create invitations, plan the music or entertainment, help set the table and help serve the food to guests.
Household chores. Point out to your kids how their washing the dishes or folding clothes actually helps the whole family. These lessons help them learn responsibility and how to be others-centered.
Help the elderly. Giving just a little of our time makes a huge difference in the lives of others. Kids see this when visting their grandparents or residents of nursing homes, and it encourages a tender heart. “Look not only to [their] own interests, but also to the interests of others” Philippians 2:4.
Manners matter. Teach kids that manners are more than protocol; they show respect and concern for others. A few good resources: The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette and Amy Vanderbilt’s Everyday Etiquette, “The Manners Lady” at themannersclub.com.
Good sportsmanship. Board games allow parents to teach many lessons including counting, strategy, social interaction skills, the appropriate level of competitiveness, and how to win and lose with grace.
Handmade greeting cards and letters. Letters and cards are less common now but no less impactful. Homemade stationery offers a personal and creative way to communicate. Have kids design and create special cards and letterhead for birthdays or other events throughout the year. Store them in a three-ring binder fitted with plastic sleeves for safekeeping. Don’t forget to send them!
Art of conversation. Ease children into the ability to converse. Teach them how to make introductions and encourage them to use proper English. Teach them how to ask questions, how to address peers and adults politely and how to correctly use telephone and electronic communication. Let them practice in low-stress social situations.
Donate. This is a great way to teach your children about helping others; they love to be involved. Ask them to sort through their old clothes and toys to give some away. Many local stores that resell usable items often provide jobs to the less fortunate in their own communities, so donating serves others in more than one way.
Help those who mourn. Share the hope that Jesus brings to those who are suffering a loss. If someone you know is suffering the loss of a loved one, let your child witness the care you take to comfort that person. Your child will not be too uncomfortable to do the same in the future.
Work ethic. The Bible frequently warns against idleness, stressing that it leads to ruin. Work is not a punishment from God but a means by which we develop character. Kids who understand the purpose of work are most likely to behave in ways that will improve the world. “A shiftless man lives in a tumbledown shack; A lazy woman ends up with a leaky roof” Ecclesiastes 10:18 MSG
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