Child Helpfulness Acquisition

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To promote helpfulness in the world, surely part of the job is to help children to acquire it. Looking at methods of facilitating child helpfulness acquisition may also yield clues about how to promote helpfulness among adults.

Let's extract and outline some widely varied approaches I have found:

1) Developing the Roots of Helpfulness in Your Children
Bonnie Harris: Connective Parenting

  • Consider the agendas. Yours is to have a clean house: no toys to step on, dust bunnies to collect, mice to gather. Your child’s is to play and have fun as much as possible. If your child doesn’t do what you ask, you might assume disrespect, disobedience, or ingratitude when all she is doing is trying to get what she wants.
  • Try modeling what you want to see in your child.
  • Once there is calm modeling going on, then children can be brought into the process to help and eventually take over the task.
  • When we ease them into the process of helping, they are freer to watch, listen and learn with no need to build a wall of defense.
  • Children naturally want to help--until we blame them for not helping.
  • Here are some tips on developing a helpful attitude in your children:
    • Let very young children who want to help know they are helping, not hindering, and show appreciation.
    • Ask young children for small favors getting something for you or putting something away.
    • Understand that some children are more resistant temperamentally to being told what to do than others. They will be harder to assign chores but it doesn’t mean they don’t want to be helpful.
    • As your child gets older, don’t drop the ball on expecting him to help or have regular chores simply because he makes a scene when asked to do anything.
    • Model the behavior you want, use choices for time, ask if he needs help, acknowledge his agenda, and ask when you can expect the job to be done.
    • Be helpful to your child when a bad mood means it’s harder to do what you want. Don’t expect peak capability all the time.
    • Offer new jobs to choose from when you see boredom and resistance.
    • Don’t use rewards such as food, points or allowance for normally expected jobs. Your child’s reward is knowing he is counted on to be a contributing member of the family.

2) Helpfulness Lapbook
Iman's Home-School

This lavishly illustrated lesson should be seen (via the link above). An attractive 'book' is made. It includes words like these:

  • 'Helpful' Vocabulary: Assist, Support, Aid, Serve, Relieve, Facilitate.
  • Helpfulness in the Qur'an; Ways To Help Others; Ways To Help Mum; Helping Others to Do Good Deeds.
  • Fill-in-the-blank sentences. The answers are "help", "helping", "helpful", "help", "helped", "helps".
  • Paper hand-shapes called "Helping Hands". On them a child has written, for example, "I can be quiet when Zeynah's sleeping," and "I can help Mummy carry the shoping [sic]," and "I can keep stuff under my bed tidy".
  • Small pieces of paper containing anecdotes showing helpfulness or its opposite. Stick the piece of paper into the correct column, "Helpful" or "Unhelpful".
  • The first flap at the top of the page displays the verse from Surah Al-Mai’dah which commands, "Help each other in righteousness and piety, but do not help each other in sin and wrong-doing." (Qur'an 5:2)
  • An accordion booklet which includes examples of ways to help others.
  • A word search puzzle where you look for "help", "helping", "helpful", "helped", "helper", "helpfulness", and "helps".

3) Visualizing Helpfulness (for children)

Think of a typical day – being at school or at work, for example. In your mind, look around your situation and see who might need your assistance. It could be a teacher, colleague or peer – someone whose job is difficult or a person who seems overwhelmed or struggling. How could you help make that person’s job easier? What could you do that would be helpful?

Now picture yourself going to that person and offering assistance to them by saying, “How may I help you today?” Imagine how that person feels just by your offering to help! Now imagine actually doing something that makes that person’s day easier. How do you feel when you have been helpful? How does the other person feel? Imagine doing something every day to be helpful to that person.

4) Encouraging Helpfulness in Your Child: How to Create a Lifelong Love of Service
In Touch Ministries

  • Encourage. When you notice your little one being a helper, praise him. Say, “Wow! Thank you for helping your brother pick up his toys. You’re such a good helper.” Because correction is often a big part of raising young children, encouraging their helpful tendencies can provide you with many positive interactions each day.
  • Engage. As I mentioned, sometimes allowing little ones to help with chores can be a chore. Don’t let that stop you. Find kid-sized chores your child can do and expand her responsibilities as she grows. You can also look for opportunities to serve others as a family so that helpfulness is a natural part of your family culture.
  • Expect. Along with encouraging helpfulness and engaging in service opportunities with your child, set an expectation that your child be a helper. Read and discuss a few verses that talk about helping others and being kind, such as Acts 20:35, 1 Thessalonians 5:14 and Galatians 5:22. Have him make suggestions of how he can help others. (For example, he could help a teacher clean up toys at the end of class.)
    • Acts 20:35: In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’
    • 1 Thess. 5:14: And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
    • Galatians 5:22: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness.
  • Enable. We tend to think of enabling as a bad thing, but a toddler can’t exactly drive herself to a homeless shelter to serve. In order for your child to grow in helpfulness, you must be an enabler. When Shae’s 4-year-old son Spencer told her that he wanted to give a house to every homeless person in their city, she helped him and his older brother, Brayden, 6, come up with a doable plan. Since they couldn’t give houses, they began giving sleeping bags.