Serving others at the holiday season teaches children generosity
When a parent takes time to serve other people, their child is learning that people are important.
The holiday season can be a busy time for parents of young children. You might be busy gift shopping and trying to find places to hide those gifts until you give them! When you think about what holiday gifts you want to give your child, what is it that you really want your child to experience? Do you want your son or daughter to learn to give and not only receive?
When a parent takes the time to serve other people, their child is learning that people are important and that there is worth in extending genorosity.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught,“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Serving others is connected with having empathy for other people. According to Parenting Counts, children near age two begin to demonstrate signs of empathy. In their parent hand-out “Imitation,” it is explained that young children imitate the behavior of their parent. Imitation is actually an ability that babies are born with. Parenting Counts explains, “Imitation also serves as a basis for the development of empathy, or the ability to experience what another person is feeling.”
Serving others to help meet their needs teaches your child by example to be generous and compassionate. Being generous is about sharing ourselves, time and effort and not just our money.
Here are a few ideas to serve others together with your child:
- Shovel snow from the sidewalk of an elderly neighbor together
- Take cans of food to your local food pantry; involve your child by letting them pick out a can of food at the grocery store or let them choose a can from your kitchen cupboard
- Let your child pick out one of their toys that they are finished with and take it to Goodwill
- Depending on the age of your child, ask them how they would like to help someone else this holiday season and work together to make that happen; you might want to explain that you need to work within certain time or money limits
Talk with your child about your serving experience and share how it made you both feel. Be aware that your child could experience something distressing or concerning to them, and help them process that emotion. For example, if you go to a hospital they might see things they are not accustomed to.
A good thing about serving others is that it is not just for the holiday season, but a lifestyle we can live year round.