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In this post I share 16 creative ways to teach your child to serve others. These are ideas that you can weave into your everyday rhythm to get your children in the habit of looking out for the needs of others.
I feel that the concepts of “self-love” and “self-care” have been very much emphasized in our culture for a while now.
And although there is surely value in taking care of oneself, I want to make sure these cultural trends don’t lead my children toward attitudes of self-entitlement and self-centeredness as they grow.
I want them to be servant-hearted with a self-sacrificing love for other people–even in those times when they won’t receive any kind of reward or acknowledgement in return. I also want to see them grow in gratefulness for what they have.
While their hearts are still so malleable, I can provide them with opportunities to focus outwardly as they grow in the habit and practice of serving others!
Children Grow Through Serving Others
Children can experience so much personal growth (and necessary growth) as they serve.
- Growing in character as they realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them
- Becoming more empathetic toward others
- Becoming more aware of the needs of others
- Gaining a realistic view of what is going on in the community/world around them
- Developing a good work ethic
- Realizing that they can truly make a difference in the life of someone else
- Learning to be less attached to material goods as they give to others generously
- Growing in gratitude and thankfulness for what they have
- Experiencing new things and learning new skills
- Meeting new people and making connections with others
If you are like me, and want to raise your child with a servant’s heart, then here are 16 ideas to get them serving. Some of these may be a perfect fit for your family!
Ways to Teach Your Child to Serve Others
1. Volunteer at church.
Your child could help care for infants or toddlers in the nursery, or possibly help usher, set up before services, or clean up afterward. A teenager could be part of the worship team or choir, or help with special events.
2. Volunteer in your community.
Clean up litter at the park together or adopt a stretch of highway. Volunteer at your local library, museum, hospital, animal shelter, food bank, Habitat for Humanity, or national park, to name some ideas.
3. Sew for a charity.
Do a search online to find charities that distribute various hand-sewn items to veterans, shelters, the homeless, the elderly, sick patients, or grieving families. There is need for everything from blankets and hats to clothing and hospital gowns.
4. Participate in a food, toy, or clothing drive.
These are great opportunities for your child to learn to give in a tangible way with physical items.
5. Prepare care packages for our deployed troops.
You could mail a package through a charity organization online if you don’t know a soldier personally.
6. Prepare care packages for the homeless.
You could include personal care items, warm socks, snacks, and water bottles, to name a few things.
You could pass out care packages yourselves or look for outreach events through your church or community.
7. Look for financial giving opportunities.
You could give financially to a ministry, a missionary family, a family in need, a charity, or a special cause.
You could randomly pay for a stranger’s meal or coffee when you’re out and about, or leave a generous tip for your server.
8. Make a list of family and friends to pray for and check up on.
Pray for these people together as a family at the table or during Bible time. Look for ways to meet their needs practically as well.
9. Involve your child in preparing a meal for a family.
A meal would help a family who has just had a baby or a family in a difficult season because of sickness or loss.
10. Involve your child in preparing gifts for others.
Have your child help you as you shop for and prepare Christmas or birthday gifts/cards, or work together to prepare random gifts to bless loved ones.
Make your child’s next holiday season just as much about giving as it will be about receiving!
11. Make Christmas Shoebox gifts through Operation Christmas Child.
Operation Christmas Child gifts are distributed to many children in other countries around the world!
12. Sponsor a child.
13. Play music for residents at a local nursing home or assisted living facility.
Ask you music teacher if she will coordinate something with all her students, or have your own children prepare a selection of songs. Often times you can speak to a company’s event coordinator to arrange a date and time.
14. Practice hospitality as a family.
Invite new friends, family, or a neighbor over and serve them a meal or dessert and coffee.
15. Mow a neighbors lawn or shovel the snow off their driveway.
Such great ways to care for our neighbors.
16. Serve each other as a family.
Be creative and look for ways to bless each other continually! Complete chores for each other, put notes in lunch boxes, write each other letters, make a special dessert to share, or make random handmade gifts for each other.
So there you have sixteen ways your child can serve others—ideas that you can regularly and intentionally work into your normal routine.