My husband and I have had this topic on our minds for a long time. We are quickly discovering that serving others does not come naturally to everyone. Some have this trait born in them, while others have to work at it. I have one son that service comes naturally. He doesn’t have to think twice to help someone or give up something to make others happy. On the other hand, I have a son that believes the world revolves around himself!
WAIT….WHAT??? I know what your thinking! Isn’t that normal for kids? Do kids every really think outside their little circle?? I would like to believe that answer to that question is a big fat YES! If serving others does not come naturally, then it is something that needs practice. Like anything in life, when you are not good at something, what do you do?
Growing up, I rarely walked into a room and asked, “What can I do to help?” As I have grown, I have watched and learned from many wonderful people around me, really how to serve. This post is going to focus on how we as parents can help our children become more service oriented in a world that has become very self oriented.
SERVICE IDEA #1
Many families have a chore chart or system to accomplish different things around the home. If you do, this is a perfect way to implement serving others. Simply add to your chart, 1 act of service. It could be 1 or 5 acts depending on your child’s age. Emphasize that service is doing something for someone else without being asked. They need to come up with this act of service themselves, and share it with you after it is done. This gets there mind thinking about others and what they can do to help someone else.
SERVICE IDEA #2
My husband came up with this great idea to help my son focus more on others than himself. It has the same concept as above but with a twist. My husband put 7 pieces of paper on the wall, one for each member of our family. We talked as a family during Family Home Evening about service and the importance of it. We then said that every act of service you do, write it on your paper.
To help our son practice serving, we had him set a goal to do 15 acts of service each day. It was amazing the difference we saw. All of a sudden he was looking outside of himself and finding ways to serve. The first couple days were hard. He didn’t like writing them all down, and then it slowly became more natural. At the end of the day, he like seeing all that he accomplished through service. We also saw our other boys writing things on their lists without any coaxing from us parents. It was really neat to watch!
SERVICE IDEA #3
Start this service game, “You have been SERVED!” The object of this game is to serve someone in the family, WITHOUT getting caught! You first create a “YOU HAVE BEEN SERVED” card. This card can be homemade or below are some ideas you can print out and use. Print them out on card stock, so they will last longer. When someone does an act of service for someone else, they leave the card on that individuals bed. The trick is TO NOT GET CAUGHT!! If you get caught you lose!
Here is a link to a printable of the above images, YOU HAVE BEEN SERVED
SERVICE IDEA #4
Provide many opportunities to serve as a family. When your kids watch you serve, they will begin to emulate that. When you make dinner for another family, take them with you. Have them help you bring in the food. If you help someone move, bring them along to help with the small boxes. Do service together!!
SERVICE IDEA #5
Make service a frequent topic of conversation. Dinner time is a great time to talk about what your kids did to serve someone else. Cue your kids in different situations to ask what could be done. If you are at Grandmas house and she is cooking dinner, it is okay to hint to your child to ask Grandma if she needs any help. My son is now asking me if he can help me with anything WITHOUT any cues from my husband! WHICH IS AWESOME!!
Sometimes it doesn’t always go the way you plan. The other day we were running errands and noticed an elderly gentleman walking, carrying a load of groceries. We stopped and my son asked him if he needed help carrying his groceries homes. The man pulled his bags closer to him and said,”Oh no you don’t! You aren’t going to take my bread!” After another try with the same response, my son glanced at me, shrugged, and came back to the car.
Serving others is such an important habit to obtain. There are so many times that I get so caught up in my little world that I don’t think about anyone outside of that world. When I do this, I find myself less happy, tired, and struggling to just get through the day…. IRONIC I KNOW! It is true though. When I open myself up and PRAY for opportunities to serve, my burden is lightened, I have more energy and my heart grows. I love this quote which pretty much sums it all up,
As we lose ourselves in the service of others, we discover our own lives and our own happiness. Dieter F. Uchtdorf
If serving doesn’t come naturally, you are not alone! It was hard to think that I needed to do something more than what I was already doing in my own life. Practice and prayer will lead you to opportunities to bless the lives of others In turn you will find out who you really are and you will find a level of happiness you never had before.