Young children want to help. They like to feel that they are capable of doing things to take care of themselves and help their family. The problem is that many times we would rather not have their help because it takes way longer to do a task when they help than when we do it ourselves. Of course there are also the times your child only wants to help on his or her terms such as when you ask your child to pick up toys and he/she is reluctant to do so. Yet when you’re in the kitchen peeling potatoes or cooking all of sudden your child is right underfoot wanting to help.
How can we encourage our little ones to help not only at home, but also away from home, in school, in our communities and beyond? With a lot of patience and love, it’s not really as hard as it might sound. I believe it first starts with asking ourself the question, “How can I help?” How can I help, not only my family, but others?
Do you often find yourself too busy to stop and care? I’ve been there! And where or where do you as a busy parent, find time to care for yourself anyway? These questions are not easily answered for sure. I ask these questions on a regular basis and my regular daily prayer is, “Father God, Help! Order my day. Show me what is on your agenda today and not my own, because I really do want to walk the path that you set before me. I really do want to help others and I really do want to love like you love, but life seems so crazy. How do I cue in to what is really important?”
So how do I find time to stop and help others when I’m tempted to, like the priest, to be so busy with my own stuff that I just walk on by? For me, it means learning to say, “No!” to the things that really aren’t important. That may mean that I ignore the dust on the furniture or that I have to choose which volunteer opportunities which seem to abound at church or other places.
I’m also learning – notice I said, “I’m learning… ” ’cause I sure have a long way to go, I’m learning to walk slowly and notice people wherever I am at – at home, at the store, at church, at work or dropping my kids off at school (I’m a grandma now, but I used to drop my kids off at school. I remember those busy days!) Is there someone who looks like they could use a smile or perhaps a hand with the door as they are carrying packages? Can I make a little extra soup and even freeze it so when that new mom down the street gets home with her baby, I can give her some or perhaps even give her a coupon for a favorite restaurant or Door Dash? Can I spare five minutes to pray with someone who is going through a tough time instead of saying, “I will pray”, but then later forgetting? Who do you see that needs help? It’s worth stopping to at least offer a prayer. Let’s watch for opportunities this week and see what God does in the midst of those opportunities.
Listed below are some ideas to encourage helpfulness in your child. I know what it’s like to be a busy parent and I know that life can seem overwhelming – believe me this last year has certainly seemed that way a few times! But Im finding that when I say a quick prayer for help myself, ask God to guide me and open my eyes to helping those around me who need hope and help, I really do have time to stop and help. And when I stop, I’m blessed too.
PS I also think that God often asks us to love people who are very different from us. If God is asking you to do that, then you can be sure that He will open the way to reach beyond any communication barriers you might have. It’s an adventure! Be a helper!
I want to help, yet I get busy and I miss opportunities to help others. I can’t do everything, but I can help those who I find on my path everyday whether that be family or friends. Open my eyes to be more aware of those around me, whether my family or others, who need a caring touch. And when my kids want to help, but I would rather do it myself, may I respond with patience and love. I do want my family to learn to help others and I’m thankful to say now that they are grown, they do help others. Because you love us, Jesus, we can truly love those around us. Thank you Jesus, for your love. Amen
LEARNING TO HELP
1. Be a helper yourself. When your child sees you helping and serving others, he is more apt to want to help too. Whenever you can, include your child in helping others.
2. Put extra time in the schedule to allow your child to help. Yes, it takes her fifteen minutes to set the table when you could do it in five, but she is learning to be a contributing member of the family and she will be so proud of her accomplishment.
3. Make helping a family affair. Find a need or someone who could use a little help and compassion, then serve together.
4. As a former Montessori teacher and mom, I adhere to the adage, “Never do for a child what he/she can do for themselves.” Helping often begins with learning to help yourself. Yes, it takes patience and extra time, but eventually when you child learns to do things for him or herself, it will save you time and you will have a competent, confident, helpful child.
5. Remember to thank your kids when they help. Even if it’s picking up the toys that you asked them to pick up an hour ago, when your child finally finishes the task, say, “Thank you!” And when he does a job quickly or without being asked, tell him how very much you appreciated his help. We like to be thanked when we help someone and our kids are no different.When your child helps others, he/she gains friendships, a sense of accomplishment, confidence, learns new skills, gets out of his/her comfort zone and comes away knowing that he/she is doing what God created us to do.
For You And Your Preschooler –
SHARE A STORY – A Kind Man Stops To Help – Luke 10:25-37
One day Jesus told a story about a kind man who helped someone who was hurt. A man was traveling down the road, – (Walk, walk, walk.)
When some robbers came and took everything he had. – (Say, “Oh no!”)
They left him along the side of the road hurt and alone. (Look sad.)
A priest, (A priest is kind of like a pastor.) was traveling down that road too. (Walk, walk, walk.)
He saw the man. – (Put hands above eyes.)
Did he stop to help? No, he didn’t. He was much too busy to stop that day.
He just didn’t have time so he walked away. – (Walk, walk, walk.)
Then a teacher came along. – (Walk, walk, walk.)
He saw the man, but didn’t stop long.
He took a look, and walked away. – (Walk, walk, walk.)
Then another man, a Samaritan, came walking by. He saw the man lying on the ground and he felt very sad, because the man was hurt so bad. What would he do? Would he stop to help or would he walk by too? He stopped to help, stooped down to care for the hurt man who was lying there.
He bandaged his sores, (owies) put him on his donkey -(Clip, clop, clip clop.) and took him into town. Then he found an inn (hotel) where the man could stay until he was completely well.
The kind Samaritan didn’t stop with simply showing care. He also paid the innkeeper and said, “Take care of this man and if you spend more, I will pay you when I come back through town again.”
Jesus told this story because He wants you and I to show care and kindness too. He wants us to love and help others, even people who are different from you. It’s always good to stop and help when you see someone with a need. You can help because you know how much that Jesus loves and helps you. Let’s remember to stop and help others this week when they need help.
I know you love me and want me to love others. I want to share your love with others. I know you will show me ways I can help. I can help by sharing, by being a friend, by picking up my toys or by giving a hug when someone is sad or hurt. Thank you Jesus, for being my friend. Amen
KNOW: Jesus loves everyone and wants me to love others too.
TALK ABOUT: How can I help others?
ASK: Who loves you? Jesus loves me.
MEMORIZE: 1 John 4:19 — (Hold hands open as though holding a book.)
We love – (Give self a hug.)
Because He – (Point up.)
Loved us – (Give self a hug.)
First – (Show one finger.)
AND DO: I can stop to love and help others.
FUN IDEAS FOR THIS WEEK
- Give your child small chores to do around the house and praise him/her for being helpful.
- Look for ways to help in your neighborhood or community – it could be as simple as collecting your neighbor’s mail or feeding their kitty while they are on vacation. Have your child help you with these simple tasks.
- List of some things preschoolers can do: Set the table, wash vegetables, put on at least some of their clothes, pick up toys, put their plate in the sink, help make the bed, feed their pet, play with a baby sister or brother, help make cookies, help plant or water a garden, pick some flowers and deliver them to a neighbor, hold a door open for someone, pick up trash in the yard or when you are on a walk, dust – and oh so many more things, try making your own list – some of these things may require assistance from you, but your preschooler is capable.