Life is all about 'Others'. The happiest people are the ones who KNOW that serving others is the key to happiness..
But we all come into this world thinking life is all about US!! Never yet has there been an infant that cared more about Mama getting some sleep than he did about a full tummy! Yes, it's just the way we were created. And for the first year or so of life this works, Everyone dotes on Baby, Baby gets what baby wants, when baby cries baby gets attention. and yes this is all good and baby's needs should get met. this creates a secure and well adjusted baby.
But I am convinced one of the greatest keys to happiness is 'OTHERS'. learning that life is about 'Others'.
We all desire to have a child with the heart of a servant. A child who is willing to please because it bring happiness. A child that is sweet and compassionate and giving..
And even toddlers can be taught that its all about others. Life is not about ME and how much I HAVE or can GET. It's about OTHERS! Bringing happiness to others is a far greater accomplishment than processing things or getting the largest pile of sand..
It's not natural for a toddler to willingly give up anything!! Especially not when they think they own it!! And God knows that! that's why he gave your child YOU!! Because you are your toddler's highest esteemed authority! They Love you and think you hung the moon!!
There will be many many moments where you can teach a very young child about bringing happiness to others!! But I warn you once it catches on it will become a Huge rolling ball of happiness..
Don't begin by asking your toddler to give a favorite toy to another child to play with.. respect that they have favorites!! However a very young toddler can learn about happiness for others by being asked to share toys with a younger child and having you point out how much happiness that brought to the baby!! Simple acts of servant hood like picking up babies pacifier, or bringing a snack to a sibling.. It doesn't have to always entail GIVING SOMETHING UP.. But acts of servant hood should be encouraged by you and always commented on. "Thank you, See how happy Tina was when you brought her a snack?"
When your child gets into a squabble over a toy, Don't take it personally for your child.. You are teaching your child a far greater lesson by asking the child to generously give the toy to the other child and pionting out the happiness brought by that action than you are by taking your child's 'SIDE' in the squabble.. They are already confident in your love for them, they don't need any more encouragement to be selfish. They look to you to see how to react and when you ask the other child to give the toy to YOUR child because he had it FIRST, It sends the signal that being selfish is OK! (atleast when Mom is around) :)
Make it a habit to notice and comment on acts of servant hood! Especially those done voluntarily!! Toddlers almost always need to be guided or encouraged in these acts of servant hood because they're still such selfish little creatures.. But if you continue to encourage them in ways they can bring happiness to others and ways they can serve others..
... By the time they are in kindergarten be prepared for mounds of pictures drawn and colored especially for you, Never going to a friends house without a WHOLE collection of 'TREASURES' for that friend. Being Blessed beyond measure with countless little acts of service through out the day!! :)
Ways a toddler or preschooler can care about others:
- bringing toys/paci to the baby
- bringing Daddy a tall glass of water when he come home from work
- Helping big sis with the dishes
- rubbing mama's feet when she is tired
- feeding/watering the pet
- coloring/drawing a picture for someone that is sick
- putting a special surprise in sibling/daddy's lunch
Remember to comment on and ecourage these actions as much as possible. Some of these actions may be some your child does with out you having to ask him to, but remember to still draw the connection for him between his actions and the recipients happiness!
Thanks for reading!! And please feel welcome to comment!!