While you may accept that kids benefit from learning to be kind and helpful, stepping back and asking why these lessons are crucial helps you determine how to parent going forward. To give you proper perspective, here is a list of top reasons it’s important to teach kids to help others.
Teaching Them to Help Takes Their Focus Off Themselves
Your child’s character development is a priority. Teaching your kids to be others-focused is an invaluable tool because it takes their attention off themselves. Kids are naturally self-focused because, until about sixth grade or so, they lack the executive functioning to effectively take on others’ perspectives. If they continue to think only of themselves into early adolescence, though, they may not become very empathetic or respectful to others. Thankfully, children show signs of empathy as early as age two, and you can model and teach these qualities over time.
How to Shift Their Focus
Be sure to involve them in community service projects and other charitable endeavors to get them in the habit of helping. For example, you can let them take the lead on donating clear and mesh backpacks to a school that’s taking donations in your area. It will ingrain helpfulness if your child directly participates in helping. What your kid sees and who they interact with leaves a big impression that may inspire them to think of others more in the future.
They’ll Think Realistically About the World
Another reason to teach kids to help others is it affords them a realistic conception of the world. While some trauma and need are too extreme for kids, and some ages are too young for exposure to the world’s brokenness, it’s good to gradually mold kids’ perspectives. There will come a point when kids wake up to the world’s realities, and if you’ve taught them to help those in need, they won’t be shocked that there are so many who live disadvantaged lives.
It Helps Their Sense of Agency
As kids acquire a realistic perspective, they may become disillusioned when they consider how much help the world needs. But if you allow them to take part in charitable projects and other means of helping people, they’ll feel a strong sense of ability to effect change in people’s lives. Because they participated in helping improve people’s quality of life in the past, they’ll know they can make a difference in the world, even if they cannot address every person’s need.
They’ll Teach Others
Going forward, your children will be responsible for teaching others, including your grandkids, about helping others. For that reason, you should be intentional about teaching them because your lesson will affect the degree to which others learn kindness too. Your kids will influence people early on as well—if you instill helpfulness, they’ll model it to peers and siblings. They may even end up teaching you how to better serve others.