We thought we were teaching our children to put the needs of others first, according to the commandment found in Luke 10:27: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
When we took Growing Kids God’s Way and learned the six areas and groups of people our kids needed to show honor and respect to however, we discovered all our previous efforts had been haphazard at best.
Another way of saying this is children need to show others they are precious to them. What are the six areas and groups of people parents should teach their kids to show ‘preciousness’ to? All of us should treat the elderly, our parents and people in authority with respect and honor. Add peers (neighbors) and siblings to this group and nature (plants and animals) and property (yours and others) and we have enough to work on for life.
Interestingly enough, the one group of people God does not command us to love is ourselves. Why do you think this is? In the verse quoted above He says to love your neighbor as yourself. What is implied here is the simple fact we already love ourselves. God gave each of us a love for ourselves at birth. If we did not love ourselves, we would not protect ourselves from harm and we would not have a reference point from which to love others.
How can you train your kids to think of others, especially in the culture of entitlement (being told we deserve everything we want without working for it) we live in? You will be surprised to find how simple this can be by using one phrase.
Next time your kids are headed for trouble, pull them aside one-by-one and ask this question: “Who are you thinking of right now?” Your child will respond he is thinking of himself. Ask him who he should be thinking of. He will respond he should be thinking of others.
Given the circumstance your child is in at the moment, get specifics. Ask him who he should be thinking about right now. (The sibling he just hit; the sister whose toy he just broke, even accidentally; you, for not taking the trash out)
Then ask him to think of one way he can show this person he is willing to put their needs above his own. When your child comes up with something, ask him if he is willing to do it right then. If he says “No,” he gets to sit and do nothing (including talk and get out of the chair) until he is willing to do what he came up with. Unless your child is under five years of age, resist the temptation to tell him what he could do to show ‘preciousness’ to the one he offended.
After you have been working on this for a while, all you will need to do is whisper in their ear, “Who are you thinking of right now?” or “Who should you be thinking of right now?” and more often than not, your child will change the direction he is headed in.