As we leave the Christmas season and look toward the New Year, we often make plans and resolutions. Setting goals is a good thing for a family; it helps us define what’s important and focus on that.
How can your boys be a gift to others? And how can you guide them so they see opportunities?
1. Teach them to be kind. I know, as one snatches a toy from his brother right now in the family room, it’s easy to see this as simply a losing battle. But a few things might help you keep kindness in the front of their minds.
- Use the word “kindness.” Talk about “being kind.” Instead of just saying, “Give your brother the toy; he had it first,” remind your son that that’s the kind thing to do.
- When a little brother needs help, ask the older to intervene by saying, “It would be so kind of you to…”
- Point out acts of kindness, in them and in others. As you leave the bakery with the kids’ free cookies, say to them, “That was kind, wasn’t it?”
2. Put others first and remind the boys to do the same. You may be hearing, “No! I want it first” right now, and you’re thinking, “Yeah, right.” But there are a few practical ways to remind them it’s not all about them.
- When Dad sets down his phone to stop and talk to the boys, call attention to that. When a son makes the right choice, praise him.
- Sometimes it’s the small things, done over and over, that make an impression. There are nine years between my oldest and my youngest, and there were times the older boys had to wait to watch a dvd or a program that was age-appropriate for them because the little one was still up. To this day, my oldest says that kind of thing taught him that the world didn’t revolve around him.
- Waiting our turn in a game (or to play a game), letting another go first, or doing something Brother wants to do all teach this lesson. Encourage those things, and all attention to them when they happen.
3. Make giving a habit—a family habit. Things done together, as a family, will make lasting memories and teach enduring lessons.
- With special days in mind, come up with ways to give. Why not make a New Year’s Cake (or a pan of brownies) and share them? Think of those who may be down around holiday time—those who are elderly or living alone. And as you plan for Valentine’s Day, identify someone you’d like to share God’s love with. When you’re baking heart cookies, make up a little package for an elderly neighbor or someone new on the street. Have the boys deliver them with a Valentine’s Day greeting.
- Birthdays and holidays can be busy times and it’s easy to let some things go, but remember to help the boys learn to be givers. Maybe you’d like to teach a little stewardship lesson this year. Help your older sons come up with a plan for saving so when Brother’s birthday comes around, they have something to shop with.
Kindness, putting others first, and giving—simple concepts that can help reinforce a servant spirit in your boys.
This coming year, guide them to be a gift to others.
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