Raising Young Children to be Connected with Spirit

“Tell me something nice that you saw someone do for someone else today.”  A slightly complicated question, but with your guidance, easily understood by young children.  It is a question that I regularly ask my daughters; especially my youngest who is still learning to open her eyes to the world around her.  Instead of being wrapped up in their own needs, I want my daughters growing up in a world where they see others’ needs. 

My teenager daughter didn’t magically show-up one day at a therapeutic riding stable as a volunteer.  It took awareness.  Awareness that children existed with disabilities.  Awareness of the calming effects of animals.  Awareness of a place that brought these two together.  And, awareness that she could help make a difference through her volunteering.  An awareness in her that began with the simple question, “Tell me something nice that you saw someone do for someone else today.”

By my continual asking, my 1st grader now rarely pauses when asked this Kindness question.  “Tell me something nice that you saw someone do for someone else today.” Responses: A friend tying another persons shoe on the playground.  A teacher’s aid braiding a girl’s hair.  An eraser being shared between classmates.  A friend walking another to the nurse.  All are fantastic moments when Spirit tapped my daughter on the shoulder and whispered, “Look”.  She saw love in action.

The point of this “training” isn’t for my daughter to shine a light on herself, but once in awhile, I’ll follow-up with, “And tell me something nice that YOU did for someone today.”  Response: telling the bus driver that a friend was being bullied.  Yes, indeed, this was something nice that she did for someone else.  An awareness in her that someone was hurting someone else and then doing something to stop it.  Instead of observing Spirit, she became the vehicle through which Spirit acted.  She was love in action.

This week at church, this same 1st grader was amazed to hear that instead of giving money at the offering, the church gave money to each attendee.  Twenty Dollars.  A tangible blessing from Spirit, entrusted to each member.  The question was, what would Spirit have me best do with the twenty dollars?  While I didn’t know where the twenty dollars would eventually land, I did know that Spirit was giving me an opportunity to grow kindness in my young daughter.

So, I asked her, “What should we do with these twenty dollars?”  I loved her response: “Buy the doll stroller for me at the toy store!”  Hmmm… this was going to be a great journey!

With some guidance, and upon hearing suggestions from my older daughter and me, her responses have taken a turn towards some more Spirit filled possibilities.  “Some children don’t have homes.  We could give the twenty dollars so that a child can buy a house.”  I agreed that it would be wonderful to use the twenty dollars to give someone a home, but suggested we should keep searching for other ideas before deciding. 

She lit up when I suggested that we buy some gloves to pass out.  She liked that idea because she wanted a new pair of gloves.  Hmmmm… not the recipient that I had in mind.  Oh! I do know how wonderful it is for my daughter to receive and receive and receive.  Her eyes light up, she smiles, she even dances – fantastic displays, but this time, Spirit is being patient.  Through the twenty dollar challenge, Spirit is waiting to see her dance at Giving.  When we find the right recipient, we’ll know it.  I have no doubt.  Then she will see Spirit’s love grow.

I know that Spirit will continue to place in front of her acts of kindnesses; opportunities for doing; and an occasion to place the twenty dollars.  It’s my job to make sure that her eyes are open to see it.  Through her awareness, my daughter will see that by passing on Spirit, whether in the form of kindness or twenty dollars, lives can change and she can delight in its wonder.

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Ellen Kellner encourages divorced parents to nurture their child’s spirit in, The Pro-Child Way: Parenting with an Ex to be released January 2010.  www.TheProChildWay.com Ellen Kellner, all rights reserved.

 

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