Teach the value of helping others

Published 8:47 pm Tuesday, October 1, 2019

By Nathan Rice

We were sitting at a picnic table under a pavilion talking about the upcoming week on the campground at which we were staying. The kids have attended the same campground for many years and were familiar with the layout of the grounds and the events of the week. The events didn’t officially start until the next day, but they were already excited to begin the week.

We were continuing our discussion when a car stopped a few feet away from where we were sitting. A leader on the campground stepped out of the car and called over to us. “Gentlemen,” he said, “Would you be able to help me carry some boxes into this office?”

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I said, “Of course,” and stood up to help while making a motion so the kids would know to follow. The 13-year-old at the table, however, headed in the opposite direction. He was attempting to make a quick exit. I called his name sternly, and I told him to come back.

He came back sulkily and muttered, “I don’t see why I have to help.” I was quick to respond.

“First, we’re supposed to honor our leaders. Second, we’re told to respect our elders. Third, Pastor Larry does a lot to make this place nice for us every year, so we should do our part to help him.” He responded with a submissive, “All right, all right,” before I could continue my list. “I have more reasons,” I said as I handed him a box. “Should I keep going?”

I knew that the rest of us could have carried the small number of boxes, but I also knew it was important for the 13-year-old to assist. It was important for him to help another.

It is important for all children to learn how to help others, but it’s a lesson that can easily be missed.

Younger children are often more eager to help than teenagers, but they are sometimes shooed away because the tasks are beyond their ability or we fear they will be a bigger hindrance than they are a help. This does not instill the attitude of a helper in children and can hinder us when we are trying to teach older children the value of helping others. We should give younger children tasks that they can complete, so they learn how to help others early in life and get into the habit of assisting others.

It’s also important to teach kids why helping others is the right thing to do. I made sure the 13-year-old knew why we were going to help the person who asked for our assistance. Sometimes we fail to explain why we are making kids do something. They may accomplish what you are making them do, but it does not actually teach them.

Teaching children the value of helping others must come from more than allowing them to help from an early age and explaining the reasons why they should help others. A willingness to help others often comes from a respect for other people.

Children who are taught to respect others are much more likely to have a helpful attitude than those who see themselves as more important than everyone else. In the same manner, children who are taught to respect their elders and honor their leaders are more likely to willingly provide assistance than those who have never learned these values.

Let’s allow them to help, teach them why they should help, and, on occasion, force them to help. Let’s do all we can to raise children who know the value of helping others.

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.