Never Too Young to be of Service

Teaching our children the importance of being of service to others, especially with an eco-conscious mindset

by Kristin Farmer, M.Ed., Founder ACES and Aimee Pack, M.A., BCBA ACES 

Through teaching by example, we can instill a dedication to service and respect for the planet at the same time within our children, and they may, in turn, share this knowledge with others, promoting a culture of kindness and community interaction in today’s global society.
No one has ever become poor by giving.” 
― Anne Frank, diary of Anne Frank
Lead By Example 
Children learn by example, and a service-orientated mindset begins at home and from a young age. Valuable life skills are taught when children have required chores and help to cook meals. Simply telling children how to be of service is not enough, however. Showing them with our actions, for example by being kind to others and recycling everything we can, by volunteering in our communities and abroad is how we can ensure that our children will make positive choices in the future and also gain valuable life skills like compassion and dedication to service.
Teaching Children Respect for the Planet - Photo by Kristin Farmer ACES 2014 All Rights Reserved
Boys should learn how to cook and be helpful in the kitchen so that they carry those skills into adulthood and become pleasant husbands. Girls should be encouraged to get their hands dirty in the garden and sustainably cultivate the earth. Even small children can help with meal preparation or bring a cup of tea to a visiting senior relative. When families promote teamwork, the result is pride and family togetherness.
Play to Their Strengths
One way to instill a sense of compassion in children is to mingle their personal interests with acts of community service, then service will not seem like work of any kind. If children like to read, they can volunteer at a retirement home and read their favorite stories to the delighted residents. If they are creative or like to work with their hands, they may enjoy learning how to re-purpose old items into art or furniture. If they have a green thumb, they can volunteer at a community garden or learn how to create a garden at home in any environment: a home garden makes an excellent family and community project.
Character Develops when Serving Others
There is genuine happiness and joy to be found through helping others and through acts of volunteerism that not only warm our spirits because giving feels good, but because service creates and renews bonds from human to human. When it comes to acts of service from children to others, selfless acts can also help alleviate personal frustrations and feelings of sadness. We can teach our children that helping others is an effective way to stop feeling sad, hurt or ungrateful.

Today’s world is more connected than it has ever been and we are increasingly moving towards being a truly a global community. As children learn to be of service within families, instilling a sense of responsibility towards the planet also fosters a sense of service to the environment — our world’s larger family. Our day-to-day actions can strongly impact both the environment and the global community. As the world continues its rapid change, it is becoming increasingly important to instill in our children the importance of being eco-conscious and selflessly helping others in order to make a positive impact on the world and in our families.

A Simple Garden Can Connect the World

Using re-purposed wood and nails, it is relatively simple to build raised garden beds. Children can learn what types of plants grow best in the climate and plant seeds, nurturing them and watching them grow. Once they have harvested the nutritious organic produce that comes from their garden, kids can bring edible gifts to their parents and siblings or donate produce to food banks and homeless shelters, and they can even lead a workshop where they teach other neighborhood children how to grow their own food.

While patiently watching their garden grow, families can read about the useful properties of plants and the benefits of conservation. Children may then also begin to understand how natural substances can be used in other applications — for instance, how vinegar and lemon juice can be used as environmentally safe cleaners or how oils of rosemary and mint, common garden staples, can be used as natural bug repellents. When children understand the links between nature, the environment and global service, they will likely share it with their peers and friends, who may then teach others the importance of service, respecting the Earth and working together for the greater good.

Conclusion and Lesson

Performing acts of kindness actually empowers people — especially children — to change the way they are feeling both psychologically and physically. Helping someone else actually produces endorphins: a very empowering lesson for our children to take into their adult lives.

Supervising Editor, B. McDonald Ph.D.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Follow Kristin Farmer Aces on Facebook, Pinterest and also Twitter.
© 2014 Parenting by Kristin Farmer Blog – All Rights Reserved

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