We are teaching and raising the “selfie” generation. Perhaps this problem is as old as Adam, but our children today often are not only indulged, but over indulged. This can, and often does, manifest itself in angry outbursts, manipulation, shallow relationships, and a spirit of ungratefulness.
So where do we draw the line? How do we encourage our children to not only be grateful, but to care for others? How do we give life to Jesus’ words in Acts 20:35, ”It is more blessed to give than to receive?”
Put “Doing for Others” on Your List
Okay, so I am going to use a “bad” word. Are you ready? We should REQUIRE our children to do for others. Yes, I did say “require.” Put “doing for others” on your list. With some encouragement children will learn to love others and have fun doing it.
Operation Christmas Child
One of my favorite projects at this time of year is filling shoeboxes for Samaritan’s Purse. Our children’s group made a special trip to the dollar store to specifically pick up coloring books, crayons, cups, combs, tooth brushes and tooth paste. It often takes some convincing for our children to understand that there are kids out there who would actually appreciate toiletries.
We also have the children pray for and write a note to the child who will be receiving the shoebox. Let the children have fun with this and don’t worry if it is not perfect. Some of the children really enjoyed the activity while others needed encouragement. I had one little girl say, “Oh man, I don’t want to work.” So it certainly may be more difficult for some than others. One of my favorite things to see, though, is the difference these types of activities can make toward encouraging our kids to have loving and grateful hearts.
You’ve Been Jingled!
Another fun activity is to play the “You’ve Been Jingled” game. We actually made small treat bags and hung them on doors in the neighborhood. The idea is that you provide a treat and then encourage the family that receives that treat to share with two more families. The kids enjoyed making the treats and enjoyed going out into the neighborhoods and secretly leaving the treat bags. Leave a note or a poem, something like this:
A Jingling Poem!
Christmastime is drawing near,
So here’s a fun way to share some cheer!
“You’ve Been Jingled” is the latest sensation
To get a merry start on your holiday celebration!
Choose two families to receive some joy,
Make each a gift of little treats or toys!
The “jingling” will spread from home to home
As each family passes on this jingling poem!*
Teaching our children to love like Jesus is best when we “live it out loud.” Lead by example, take action, ring that bell, visit the elderly and the sick. Take time this holiday season to live it out in a spirt of gratefulness.