We tell our kids to love one another and be a friend to all. Love thy neighbor. Befriend the lonely. But few service programs allow young children to interact with the people whom they are helping. It’s just easier to organize toy drives and donation programs for young people. It’s also easier to count a service project a success when we can count cans of food or baby blankets. Measuring the success of an outreach program is a little more complicated. How can you tell if any difference comes about because you spent some time with the elderly patients in the nursing home?

But we need our kids to make those connections — through service and through every day living  — if we want them to grow to be kind to everyone they meet. We want our children to treat the janitor of their future company’s office building with just as much compassion and kindness as they do their CEO boss.

 

Teaching Kids to Befriend Others via www.RaisingLifelongLearners.com

 

How can we encourage our kids to befriend others then? Depending on your kids’ ages, there are some easy things you can do right away.

 

For Preschoolers

  • Talk to them about the kids they meet. Encourages them to remember names and use them when they play with, or talk about, other kids. 
  • When you’re in a group setting, help preschoolers talk with one another. Ask them to share their favorite things in categories you determine. {Colors, pets, toys, animals, restaurants, foods, etc.}
  • Look for other opportunities to talk about befriending. Is there a new family at your co-op this year? Maybe you and your preschooler can sit with them at lunch. 

 

For Elementary and Middle Schoolers

  • Talk to your child about when others might feel alone and how they can help. An elderly neighbor might need trash cans brought up and a plate of cookies delivered {with some conversation}. 
  • Encourage your children to notice those that might need a friend. 
  • Take them to visit a family member or friend suffering from a chronic illness and stay to read to them, play an instrument, or just chat over cards or a board game.

 

Teaching Kids to Befriend Others via www.RasingLifelongLearners.com

 

 

Whatever you choose to do with your kids, be intentional about fostering a desire to befriend others. Help them look for people who might need a friend or companion. Help them to find ways to spread love to others.

Will you share your favorite way to encourage your children to befriend others? I’d love some more ideas. 
For more great ideas to help you as you work hard to raise great kids, check out these other acts of kindness for kids.

 

Colleen Kessler

Colleen is an explorer, tinkerer, educator, writer, creator, and a passionate advocate for the needs of gifted and twice-exceptional children. She has a B.S. in elementary education, a M.Ed. in gifted studies, is a sought-after national speaker and educational consultant, and is the founder of the popular blog and podcast Raising Lifelong Learners, as well as Raising Poppies, a community of support for parents of gifted children. She lives in northeast Ohio with her four bright and quirky kiddos, patient husband, and ever-changing collection of small reptiles, mammals, and insects.