I have been trying hard lately to raise tiny disciples. We talk about being a blessing vs being a burden to others. We speak of kindness and gentleness every day. I like to put our talks into practice and I have come up with 10 great ways moms can use to help their littles show compassion, gratitude, love, selflessness, and kindness toward others.
Hand-written Notes: I think this is a lost art, I understand life gets hectic, but I still think hand-written notes, whether that be a thank you note, how are you note, I miss you note, or get well note, celebration note… I think they are received with a heart full of appreciation. I have my girls draw on little pieces of paper and then I will add a note. Lately, Halen is able to start writing out her own notes, which is quite exciting and I think precious to see her focused written letters for her recipient.
Baking: I love to cook and I love to bake, this is something I definitely have shared with my little ones. However, cooking and baking the extravagant meals from my past, has been hard pressed with my ducklings waddling next to me. I have found that grabbing a few easy to make dessert boxes from Trader Joes (all have ingredients you can pronounce) is such a fun way to include my sweet ones in the baking process and even more fun to take the sweet treats to a neighbor or friend who needs a pick me up.
Compliments: Lately Halen will tell us that someone has a “nice hat”, “pretty dress”, “beautiful hair” and we have been encouraging her to voice those compliments aloud, even if they are to strangers. I think cheering on her willingness to speak up and tell someone something lovely about themselves is exactly what Jesus would do. A few weeks ago Halen saw a dapper man walking down the street and she said, “Daddy he is handsome,” so we stimulated her to go tell him, she did and with his flashing smile we could tell it brightened his day.
Manners: This one is a no brainer, all of us mamas want our children to have manners. I am always reminding my girls to say please and thank you. We have even added in, “Have a nice day” or “Have a good afternoon” when we say hello to someone we don’t know. Henley has a sweet habit of talking it up with just about anyone who will listen to her precious toddler ramblings. I feel it is so important to have people leave better after they have come into contact with you, and I am teaching this to my girls.
Gift-giving: We have started to include the girls into gift giving when a birthday or celebration arises. I love having them help pick out the gift, because it gives the item so much more meaning. Then of course they add their elaborately decorated cards as well.
Praying: We have prayed with our girls since they were in the womb, nowadays we pray together as a family all the time. The girls have started initiating their own prayers and I love it. We always encourage them to pray for their friends, teachers, family members, and even those we don’t know. Every time we hear a siren, we pray for the people to be okay, oftentimes they do this on their own now. It is a precious way for them to connect people to how we can serve them.
Serving Others: I love diving more and more into servitude, especially after being the recipient of so much serving this past year. Our daughters watched numerous angels walk in and out of our home carrying baskets of blessings. From helping with laundry, cleaning our house, bringing in meals, helping with the girls, even our incredible Christmas from Santa. We have talked to the girls about how important it is to serve others… we try to find ways we can do this from our home… bring someone their mail, their newspaper, take out their trash, etc. I love showing our girls the importance of looking beyond yourself to someone else in need.
Hugs: Our girls are pretty physical touch, so this one is not difficult for them. We are a pretty lovey dovey household, but we talk about how someone feels when you give them a hug. They know how much they love their hugs and how it lifts their spirits, so now they are learning to give hugs in return to help another feel good too.
Volunteering: This is one I have been so excited to share with our girls, they are still a bit young for most things but, there are several places in Austin for families to donate their time or belongings to help those in need. Around Christmas and the girls’ birthdays we walk around the house with a bag and the girls choose items they would like to donate to a little kid who doesn’t have as much as they do. I also brought both girls along to two events for Hurricane Harvey, just so they could start to see that whole idea of giving back.
Fruits of the SpiritF: Lately we have been using Redemptive Discipline to avoid disciplining the behavior but training their hearts. I talk to Halen about the fruits of the spirit and how Jesus wants us to act. When she disobeys, hurts her sister, acts with unacceptable behavior, her and I pray asking God to forgive her sin and asking help for her to be better. In this act, Halen is learning about how she needs to hold herself, not just because she will go to timeout or lose a privilege, but because that is what Jesus teaches us to do. I love that it has already become part of her understanding, and she asks to pray with me more often.
Raising children is hands down the hardest job in the universe. It pulls at every un-blessing part of me. But, in those moments when I think I might literally spew hot magma, I hear a darling voice say, “Halen I love you.” Or, “Mommy tell me a story about when I was in your tummy.” And I melt. My heart settles and is re-filled with that unconditional love that God poured into me from the moment their heart started beating inside my body. Now that they are older, raising them to be blessings in this world is of utmost importance to us. I found that these ways make it easy and fun to teach them important social skills.
Mother Teresa couldn’t have said it any better when she said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.”