Little Hands, Big Hearts: Helping Children Put Compassion Into Action

Today I want to feature a fellow blogger friend’s article, “Raising Helpers: Teaching Kids to Love Helping,” written by Kelly from Hope in the Chaos.  I read it at just the right time when I was trying to find thoughtful, creative ways to help my oldest son, Caleb, become more in tune with helping others.

Now don’t get me wrong— Caleb is a VERY sweet and tender-hearted boy.  He is always bestowing hugs, words of encouragement, and frequent “I love you’s,” and he’s always willing to entertain his baby brother for me, even though sometimes that entertainment turns into a brotherly squabble.

But when Caleb was younger, I remember him being fascinated with helping me around the house.  Sweeping, putting up toys, watering plants, “mowing” the grass, helping me throw clothes into the dryer, etc.  Everything was “new” and “exciting,” and he was eager to practice his new-found independence.

Caleb mow  Caleb sweep

Aden is at that stage now too.  He loves to sweep, put away toys (while he sings “Clean-uh!  Clean-uh!”), and he LOVES to wipe things down with a washcloth or baby wipe— and trust me, there’s always plenty of messes for him to wipe up, especially after meal times.

Aden sweep  Aden bowl

Fast-forward to today, and Caleb (age 7) knows how to do all sorts of helpful chores like clean his room, vacuum, fold clothes, clear the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher, etc.  But I’ve noticed that as he has gotten older, my husband and I really have to encourage him (usually more than once— ok, sometimes more than twice) to do those things.  He won’t necessarily help us out unless we ask him to.

And we also usually receive the “rolled eyes” look or exasperated sighs instead of a cheerful response.  “Do I have to?”  “I did that yesterday!”  “It’s too messy; it will take me forever!”

I even recall a moment when he was around three years old, and I had asked him to help me carry a lightly-weighted grocery bag from the car into the house, and he responded matter-of-factly, “You can do it, Mommy.  You’re a big girl.”  I couldn’t help but find his comment irresistibly cute, but I still asked him to help me carry in the bag nonetheless, and he complied.

Now I know he’s ONLY seven (going on fourteen), but I’d like to try and be more intentional with him as we help him understand what it means to have a servant’s heart and to be in tune with other people’s needs.  It’s not just a matter of doing chores.  It’s a matter of seeing a need, recognizing that he can do something about it, and willingly and cheerfully stepping in to help.

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7

“‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40 

Cheerful giving takes practice, prayer, patience, and modeling by example, and I long to instill this life-long value in both of my children.  I long to raise tender-hearted helpers who will cheerfully lend a hand, even without being asked to.  I want them to understand that helping others is a gift and not a burden.

This is why I LOVE Kelly’s article, “Raising Helpers: Teaching Kids to Love Helping.”  Kelly is a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of four precious kiddos, her “chaos makers,” as she lovingly calls them.  Her blog, Hope in the Chaos, helps countless families navigate the every-day chaos in their lives as she encourages moms and dads to turn to hope, faith, and good-ole family fun.

In “Raising Helpers,” Kelly discusses the importance and value of raising mindful, compassionate children who enjoy helping others and who seek out opportunities for service.  Her family motto is See a need, Fill a need.”  She describes practical and creative ways for parents and grandparents to help kids (of all ages) learn how to help willingly and cheerfully and how to be sensitive to the needs of others.

Reading her article definitely encouraged me to want to focus more on Caleb’s heart for service and being more intentional with him about how God calls us to acts of service and kindness.  Caleb has a sweet, compassionate heart, but he needs guidance in putting that compassion into action.  All kids do.

Click on the image below to read Kelly’s post, and be sure to follow her blog Hope in the Chaos for more great stories and words of encouragement!

raising helpers

– Amy


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