The last time our family went to the beach the tide was high. Thus, we decided to go further south to a state beach. As we pulled up to the parking lot, we realized it was $10 to park in the lot (expensive, I know). We only had $7 and some change. Without hesitation, my daughter whipped out her purse and pulled out several dollars. Since it was an hour until sunset, the parking lot attendant said she would only charge us $5. As we pulled into the lot, I smiled. Perhaps, my words/actions were finally rubbing off on my daughter. Here are a few tips on raising a selfless child.
Lead by Example
As with any desirable characteristic, the best way to teach a child is to lead by example. For example, at dinner, offer your spouse the last dinner roll. When planning an activity, ask your kids what they would like to do. Giving your seat to an elderly person on a bus is another way to show selflessness. Of course, volunteering is a great way to show your children how to give without getting anything, at least material, in return.
Give them Opportunities to Share
I don’t like to force my kids to share. Saying, “Give your brother half of your sandwich” is hardly a lesson in selflessness. However, putting your children in situations where they have opportunities to share is a good idea. For instance, having your children work together on a project (such as building with blocks or doing a craft) gives them the opportunity to ask each other for resources. For instance: Can I use the orange paint? Can I have the red block next to you?
Show them How to Serve
Serving others is one of the most important aspects of being selfless. Volunteering at a homeless shelter, school or church is one way parents can show kids how to devote their time to help others. You could do a beach cleanup or simply spend some time cleaning up a local park. Kids need to understand that giving is more important than receiving.
It’s Not about You
As a parent, I do a lot for my kids, sometimes to the point where I forget to leave any time for myself. Yet, I try not to do this. After all, I think it’s important for kids to realize the world doesn’t revolve around them. For instance, when my husband and I are having a conversation and my kids interrupt, we make sure to let them know that “mommy and daddy are talking…please wait until we are done.” As parents, we don’t have to be at our children’s beckon call (unless they are in harm’s way…or a hungry newborn baby). In other words, you can be devoted parents without giving your children the impression that they are the center of the universe. After all, I think humility plays a role in developing a selfless child.
It’s likely your child will have his or her selfish moments (just like adults do). However, teaching kids to be selfless is an important life lesson.
More from Melissa:
Five Things to Teach Your Kids About Love
Got Kids? 5 Ways to Appreciate Them
Kids and Manners: It’s a Lost Art