How do we teach kids to be selfless?
I don’t know about you, but I constantly find myself doing things for my children without even thinking about it. It’s in my nature as a mom to serve my family. I enjoy serving them, but serving them is different than enabling them.
Are you always the last to sit down for dinner and often get up several times throughout the meal to get things for your kids? Do you carry a jacket to the car because you noticed it was forgotten? Have you ever searched hours for something your child misplaced like a favorite stuffed animal or blanket? Do you spend all your free time putting clothes away, cleaning up messes, driving your kids around, and doing the multitude of other tasks that seem required to run a household? You’re not alone! Most parents would agree that that’s just an average day.
Some of the tasks above are just part of the everyday life we live when we raise kids. But even those essential tasks can often include our kids helping out rather than it being done for them. We can teach kids to be selfless by showing them how to be a part of the family, not the middle of the family. By expecting them to help out with anything they are capable of doing.
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It is not just our actions that teach kids to be selfless.
The words we choose can have a big impact. Some days, as I do all the things above, plus about 1,000 other tasks, I feel overwhelmed and frustrated and the words I choose are not productive at all. Sometimes I get to the end of the day and feel like I talked AT my kids all day, instead of TO them, and wonder if I even told them anything worthwhile.
Do your days sound anything like this?
Don’t do that.
Wait just a minute.
And the list goes on and on.
We need to train our children to become caring and capable adults. It won’t just happen. This does not just mean keeping their behavior in check. It means giving them the tools and expectations needed to do hard things, handle disappointments, and care about others.
Our words play a big role in how our children see themselves and take on the world.
Here are a couple quotes I love when it comes to the power of words;
“Don’t mix bad words with your bad mood. You’ll have many opportunities to change a mood, but you’ll never get the opportunity to replace the words you spoke.” -Unknown
“Don’t ever diminish the power of words. Words move hearts and hearts move limbs.” -Hamza Yusuf
“Words are seeds that do more than blow around. They land in our hearts and not the ground. Be careful what you plant and careful what you say. You might have to eat what you planted one day.” -Unknown
“Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate, and to humble.” -Yehuda Berg
It is so easy to get caught up in frustrating moments and challenging parenting situations and forget to think before we talk. I run into this all the time. So I sat down one day and made a list of the things I want my kids to hear from me on a regular basis. This way, even when I am in the craziness of the day, I will have meaningful words to speak without having to think too much. When we choose our words wisely, we get well behaved and thoughtful children, rather than frustrated and spiteful children.
A list of words and phrases to say to your kids often.
God Loves You– Help your kids get an understanding for how great our God is.
I Love You– Say this often! Even when they don’t want to hear it.
Work Hard– Work hard at everything you do, no matter how small or mundane the task.
Be Thankful– Everything we are given or have, is a gift and we should be thankful for each and every thing.
Serve Others- Find ways to help and serve those around you.
Be Honest– Trust is easily broken and not easily gotten back.
Choose Your Attitude– a good attitude can turn almost any situation into a more positive one. Plus we learn more from our experiences when our hearts are open to it.
Move On– Sometimes it is not going to turn out the way you want.
Listen Thoughtfully– Really hear what others are saying and never interrupt.
Persevere– Don’t give up easily, find new ways to continue when something gets hard or new ways to look at the situation.
Seek Opportunities to Learn and Grow– Never stop learning.
Give Something– Time, energy, a smile, a hug, kindness, a toy, money, compassion…
Real JOY– Jesus first, others second, yourself last.
Laugh and Be Silly– You know that old saying, “laughter is the best medicine”? It’s true! “Quote about how laughter changes out help
Do Something You Love– Make time to do the things you love.
Choose the phrases above that are meaningful for your family and start integrating them into your regular conversations. See what an impact your words can have on your children and the positive effect it has on you as well! Want to print them out as colorful graphics? Sign up below and I will send 15 colorful posters your way!