We all want our kids to be helpful, right? Not only is it great when children take initiative to help around the house, but how heartwarming it is to see them helping others on the playground, at school, and in the neighbourhood… without prompting.
Here are some thoughts from several mothers about how to teach this important virtue:
I think having a helpful heart is a great quality in both children and adults. While my children are still young, I encourage them to help both each other and myself. Whether it’s asking an older one to help a younger one (which is also empowering) or asking a child to bring me something, it makes everyone feel good. Also, I think it’s important children know they need to help out for a home to run smoothly. The sooner you start the better! – Rachel from A Mother Far From Home
We love using the phrase “You are very helpful” in place of good boy, good girl or good job. It nurtures the desire to help others and offers positive reinforcement for good behavior. Our son loves to help with laundry, the dishwasher and cooking. It often takes longer with his help, but he is a contributor to our family. Allowing him to be helpful, in addition to telling him that he is helpful, are two great ways to nurture and grow helpfulness in a child. – Lauren from The Military Wife and Mom
As parents we constantly help and assist our children from the time they are born and beyond. As parents we don’t think twice when we help our children. And this is the attitude we would want out children to have as well: helping others without hesitation, without asking for anything in exchange. Here is a post with more ideas. -Varya from Creative World of Varya
We use the word a lot with praise, such as “Thank you for carrying the bag. That was very helpful.” – Emma from P is for Preschooler
We have a Kindness Animal: the Kindness Crocodile. His job is to be a marker for anonymous kindness acts. In short, using him to around the house is a fun way to express love and help one another in the home. I think that it works well because our kids get to be on the receiving end and giving end of helping others. We are also deliberate in teaching the kids the phrase,”How can I help?” This puts more of an action into offers of help instead of the “yes/no” question of “Can I help?” Here is the post on the Kindness Crocodile. – Sheila from Pennies of Time: Teaching Kids to Serve
I personally believe that conversing about character traits while engaging in hands-on activities and exploring themes via storytelling are powerful ways for children to understand and eventually exhibit the traits. Here are some resources that can help with this:
A List of 52 Acts of Service for Young Families
Serving with Toddlers and Preschoolers
10 Easy Character Building Activities for Toddlers
Simple Random Acts of Kindness
5 Character Traits Kids Learn from Serving Others
And a story that shows how one can help no matter how small they are: The Lion and the Mouse
What other thoughts or resources do you have about how to teach helpfulness to young children?
To browse more character building activities on my website, click here. You may also enjoy my ebook with 100+ activities in an easy-to-use checklist format, Playing with Purpose: Character Building Made Fun.
Some great ideas here.
Helpfulness and kindness that’s what I teach daily at home and at schools. Great ideas.
Lovely ideas. 🙂
Great insights! I think a big part of teaching it is praising helpfulness and being specific about it. I like the idea in the post of saying, “you are so helpful,” versus, “good job”. It’s more direct and the child knows that they are doing so they can do it again. Thank you for this post!