Have you ever attempted to go through a store door with your arms overflowing with a baby, your diaper bag and several shopping parcels, only to have the person in front of you let the door shut in your face? Ever been sick and tried to sleep when suddenly it sounds like the circus has come to your living room?
Putting someone else’s interests before your own is not just good manners, it is consideration. In fact the Apostle Paul writes, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather in humility, value others above yourself.” (Philippians 2:3 NIV)
Being considerate of others is tough. Satan makes sure we understand how annoying it will be to put the interests of the other person before our own. And the payback is minimal at best (Satan would continue.). There are no “Considerate Person of the Year” awards. People will rarely jump up and down because you were considerate. There are no ticker tape parades for considerate people.
If being considerate is so undervalued by the world (at least as earthly rewards go), why is it so important to God? First, because being considerate is part of living out the two greatest commands – specifically, love others as you would love yourself. Second, if you put Philippians 2:3 (above) in connection with other scriptures, you will find that being considerate of others is a way of sharing our faith.
Children have a hard time being considerate. They often struggle with concepts like gentle, soft, quiet, sharing and delayed or non-existent gratification. There are some fun things you can do though, to help your children practice consideration.
- Play a game of doorman at the mall or some other place with doors and people with lots of packages. If you live in a city with doormen, take your children to watch how they do their job. Ask the doorman if he can tell your kids about some of the skill sets he has to have to keep his job.Then drive your kids to the mall and let them pretend to be doormen. After the stint as an amateur doorman, take your kids out for lunch and talk about what they learned. How did it feel to help someone who would have had a difficult time opening the door without them? How did people respond? What did they learn from their time as a doorman? After your discussion, explain to your children they should always hold open the door for others whenever possible and help others in any way they can. (Consideration Concept: Helping others.)
- Play spy. Kids love this game. You may want to place clues around the house treasure hunt style for them to find. The object this time though is not just to find the treasure, but to see if they can be so quiet no one catches them in “the act”. Teach them the art of walking without making any noise and watching out for things so they don’t bump into them. If they are very young, help them practice whispering so no one else can hear. Once your children find the treasure, sit down and enjoy it while you talk about what they learned. Explain how important it is to be very quiet if someone is trying to sleep. Help them think of other ways they can be considerate of the needs of others. (Consideration Concept: Caring about the needs of others.)
- Take your kids to the museum. Or take them to a place with baby animals. As you enjoy your outing, ask your kids why these places usually have so many rules about touching things or how things are handled? Talk about how important it is to be careful with things, animals and people. Discuss what to do to be careful and not break or hurt things. While there, or as a follow-up trip, allow your children to hold things that must be handled delicately. Allow them to practice their new skills. (Make sure you are supervising carefully and it is something you can afford to replace if it is broken!) Explain how important it is to be good stewards of our things and to be very careful with things belonging to others.(Consideration Concept: Caring about things belonging to others.)
- Play a game of “Say It, or Don’t Say It?” Make up two stacks of “playing cards” One stack with some situations and the the other with some possible verbal responses. Have some of the answers be correct, some wrong and some very subtly wrong. Make some funny, which may or may not work depending on the situation. See if your kids can correctly match possible responses to the situations and then decide which ones are right, which ones are wrong and which ones may be right or wrong depending upon the circumstances. The older your children are, the more complex the game can become. As you play, discuss how the things we say can seem funny to us, but really hurt the other person very badly, even if we don’t mean to hurt them. (Consideration Concept: Caring for the feelings of others.)
Remember, many of these consideration concepts also involve good manners, stewardship and other Biblical principles. In addition, make sure you are regularly reinforcing the idea of using consideration as a way we show others how God loves them and so do we. Help them practice sharing their faith whenever being considerate gives them an opportunity to do so.
Do you have other consideration topics you would like to teach your child? Have you found a unique way to teach your child to be considerate? Share your thoughts in a comment. If you have a new topic, I’ll see if I can think up a fun way to practice it with your children!