Kids want to lend a hand. And it’s the parents’ role to encourage and direct a child’s natural tendency to help out so that it develops into a habit that lasts a lifetime. Dr. Schonfeld explains that “children learn to be helpful from observing you. It’s crucial to be a good role model.” Try a handful of these easy strategies to encourage your child’s helping gene. These straightforward suggestions will help your kids become kind, generous people, one kind act at a time.
Have your child gather and transport empty cans and bottles to a recycling facility that pays you for what you bring in, then deposit the cash you earn into the donation box at the store checkout.
Help with family problems
Adults know what to do when a friend gets sick or is in trouble. Get your kids involved in the project. Ask for help, arrange a bouquet, layer pasta on lasagna bread, or collect tin cans. And take your child with you when you drive to deliver presents. You can experience firsthand how it feels to make someone’s day. This is also a great time to talk about it and ask if you remember when someone did something nice for you and how it felt.
Teach them to share to foster kindness
Is his bookshelf overflowing with books? Suggest your child donate the box to the library or a local home. Put leftover soup or cinnamon rolls in a bag and take them to the elderly neighbors.
Never throw it away
If you accidentally drop something, be sure to pick it up. If you see old newspapers or used mugs on park benches, throw them away. It feels good to deal with messes you didn’t create and shouldn’t “clean up.”
Children should seek and need a certain amount of help simply because they are part of the family and live under the same roof, and it is the right thing to do. So show where the cat food is, how to clean up the dining table and make the bed. Also, keep a task chart to track and reward task completion. Your children will be very proud to have done their part.
Make a kind gesture
If you have a friend feeling overwhelmed, ask them what they can do to help their family. If you have a friend who can help, offer to pick up your friend’s child from school, get your own and simplify her to-do list. Ask them if they need anything when you go to the grocery store. Then let your child choose sweet treats for their friends and family. This is an excellent example of your child-friendliness and will help your friends enjoy desserts with their families.
Look on the bright side
Sometimes it seems like bad news is everywhere. Introduce your children to good things that are happening and good people who are helping others. Clip a newspaper article about students who volunteered to build houses and collect clothes after a natural disaster. That makes children feel good about their world and encourages them to think creatively about how they can make a difference.
Do not criticize their efforts
Yes, you can get wet towels off the floor faster, sort laundry better, and pour milk without spilling it, but if you take over (or criticize too much), your little helpers will feel incompetent, unskilled — and less likely.
Lighten someone's burden
Send your child to meet the postman on the sidewalk before he has to walk up your steps or the driveway. Offer to help another customer run errands while driving. Let someone in front of you line up at the grocery store with less stuff.
Encourage a stranger (or a friend)
If your neighbor’s newspaper is still soaked from the sprinklers, throw it on his porch. If the guy driving your bus has been away for a few days, ask him how he feels when he gets back. Is a friend sad? Give her a hug. Teaching your kids to notice what’s happening in the lives of the people in their backyard fosters empathy and can inspire them to become avid helpers.
Do something that is above and beyond the call of duty.
If your neighbors have lost a pet, call and ask if they’ve found their furry friend. If not, you and your child can offer to prepare more dishes and keep an eye on their friend. Thank.
Compliment a stranger on her awesome sweater, say hello to a neighbor and thank the pizza delivery guy. Sometimes a simple affirmation or expression of appreciation is all someone needs to get through the day.