Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Kindness

Our neighborhood currently has multiple yard signs that simply read “Be Kind”. Kindness seems to be more and more rare. Yet kindness is not always what the world thinks it is.

Kindness is not just being nice. Sometimes, the kindest thing to do doesn’t always seem so nice. If someone has spinach in her teeth, it may not seem very nice to point it out to her. However, done with love, it can be very kind – especially if she is getting ready to stand in front of her class to give a report.

So what are some things you can do with your kids to help them be kind to those around them? Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Kindness challenge. There are plenty of people who are kind when it is easy or when they think they will get something in return. Being kind when there is nothing to gain or when it may cost your kids something is tougher. Challenge them to think of times it is tough to be kind. Can they choose to be kind anyway? Spend time each day talking about their efforts at kindness during the day.
  • It’s how you say it. This game is great for helping kids learn how to speak the truth with love. Give them scenarios where the kindest thing is to tell the truth. If they are careless with their words though, they can do as much harm as good. Have them say what they would say to the person. You can give points for kind, truthful responses or to the child who does the best job at speaking the truth with love.
  • Kindness manners. Manners are a way to show kindness to others…to put others needs before their own. Pretend you are having tea with the “Queen” or some other time the very best manners would be expected. See if your kids can get through the experience with great manners. As you have your “tea and crumpets”, talk about the ways good manners are showing kindness to others.
  • Be kind to family week. Sometimes, we can be kind to everyone but our family. Challenge your kids to meet a kindness challenge for a week. Talk about the ways your family members are often unkind to each other. Consider having a family celebration at the end of the week and encourage continued kindness to each other.

Kindness is not just being nice, having good manners or helping others…but they are all part of it. Finding ways to regularly practice kindness can help your kids be kind to others naturally.

Fun Ways to Teach Kids About Patience

At first glance, patience may be a fruit of the Spirit that means the same to the world as it does to Christians, and in many ways it does. Christians, however, have an added spiritual dynamic to patience. We at times have God ask us to wait for Him.

Waiting on God can at times require more patience than we care to have. Partially because God does not tell us when He will heal someone we love or return to take us to Heaven. We have to be patient in the unknown…which can be much more difficult than knowing we will only have to be patient for a specific period of time.

As you teach your children about patience, don’t forget to discuss this spiritual aspect of patience. Read Psalms and other places where people in the Bible grew impatient waiting for God. How did they handle it? Did they try to “help” God like Sarah, and unknowingly cause thousands of years of conflicts? Did they voice their frustration to God like in some of the Psalms? What happened when they were patient?

There are some fun things you can do with your kids to help them be more patient…some in more conventional ways and others with a more spiritual focus. Patience and perseverance often work together, so don’t be afraid to tackle both with the same activity. Although perseverance is not a fruit of the Spirit, it is mentioned in the Bible as a necessary character trait for Christians.

Here are some of our favorite ways to help kids work on patience.

  • Board games. Let’s be honest. Playing Candy Land with your child requires a tremendous amount of patience! That game can last forever! Depending upon the age of your kids though, many other games require patience in various forms. Whether it’s the length of the game, the behavior of other players or the way the game itself is played, games are one of the easier, fun ways to help your kids be more patient.
  • Jigsaw puzzles. The more pieces involved and the more difficult the design, the more patience it will require. Want to test someone’s patience? Hide the last piece and you will have a quick idea for how patient others are.
  • Cooking. This works on patience the most of it is a food your child particularly loves or if they are already a bit hungry when you begin cooking. With cooking options today, you can start by stretching your kids’ patience by a few seconds with a microwave recipe or minutes to hours using traditional ovens and stoves.
  • Arts and crafts. The less experience your child has and the more intricate the project, the more patience it will require. Some crafts like sewing, require pulling out mistakes and beginning again in order to complete the project.
  • Teaching a parent or sibling a new skill. This activity can have other side benefits as well. If your kids have knowledge about a social media platform, a new technology, or something else that you don’t know, have them teach it to you thoroughly. For many kids, you won’t have to fake having trouble understanding what they are teaching you…an even faster than average learning curve with a parent can make them extremely impatient. Once they can teach you something with patience, they can try teaching a sibling something.
  • Musical instruments. Learning to play an instrument well requires patience and perseverance. The more difficult the instrument, the more practice they will need to master it…requiring more patience and perseverance. The key for success though, is allowing the child to choose an instrument they are passionate about mastering. If the instrument is dictated, it may require more patience from you than them!
  • Races, hiking, rock climbing. Set goals and help them increase their stamina towards reaching the goal. Sometimes an external motivator for reaching the final goal can make patience a little easier.
  • Waiting. Whether it’s waiting in a check out line, waiting for you to cook dinner or waiting for the sermon to end, learning how to wait patiently is a skill that requires practice. Real waiting isn’t fun, but encourage your kids to find ways that help the time pass more quickly.

Teaching your kids patience, may require your patience as well. You may find doing these things with your children makes you more patient as well. Everyone will benefit when your family is more patient.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Peace

War and Peace. That is often how the world views peace – the opposite of war, the absence of conflict. Yet Jesus himself was at times in conflict with people like the Pharisees. Could it be that the peace mentioned as a fruit of the Spirit is something more?

The answer might be found in Ephesians 2:11-22. Jesus is the Peace. His death, burial and resurrection brought peace between Jews and Gentiles…it gave Gentiles the opportunity to be reconciled with God.

So the peace in the fruit of the Spirit is probably more about being reconciled to God, becoming a welcomed part of God’s family, the church. Does it also mean peace in the way the world usually uses it? At times, it may. In a healthy family conflicts must be resolved or the family stops working well. If we sin and don’t repent, we don’t have peace with God. We must repent to resolve the separation our sin created.

These are deep concepts for young children to understand. They can understand that conflict causes separation. Our sin causes a gap between us and God that God doesn’t want to be there. Conflict with our Christian brothers and sisters can distract the church from serving others and sharing their faith.

To help your kids begin understanding these principles, you can make it a bit more concrete. It’s fine to still discuss the deeper ideas in peace, but don’t be discouraged if they look puzzled. Focus on the concrete concept of peace – resolving conflict with others.

Here are some fun ways to explore conflicts and peace with your kids.

  • Guess what happens next. Most books – even for children – involve some sort of conflict that must be resolved. As you read to your kids, pause when the conflict becomes apparent. Ask your kids what they think will happen next. What are some things the characters could do that will make the situation worse? What are some things they could do to resolve the conflict and be at peace?
  • Look back in time. History is filled with conflicts. Examine some of them with your kids. What started the conflict? Sometimes the situation that eventually led to the conflict seems almost silly to us years later. At other times, people felt justified – whether they actually were or not is another discussion. What did various people do that made the situation worse or better? You can make it more fun by using educational books and videos created for children to examine some conflicts. Try to find ones that will be new to your kids so they can look at them without preconceived notions.
  • Someone has to win. Conflict is often the result of believing there is only one winner and one loser…everyone fights to be that winner. The reality is there are often other solutions where everyone would have won. It’s just that no one takes the time to find them. Teach your kids how to work through their own conflicts looking for those unique solutions that aren’t as obvious, but work better for everyone.
  • The church family team. Participate as a family in service projects, mission efforts…anything where diverse people within your congregation work together to serve others and share their faith.
  • Encourage quality apologies. Your kids may be too young to understand sin and repentance. They can however begin learning how to apologize to friends and family members properly. Apologies should include real sorrow and a statement of what they will do differently next time so it won’t happen again. There should also be an effort to make amends and a request for the other person to forgive them. Allowing your kids to kick the metaphorical dirt while mumbling “Sorry” won’t teach them about repentance or peace.

Peace is a tough fruit of the Spirit. The younger your kids are when they begin learning about it though, the easier it may become for them. It’s worth taking the time and effort to help them.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Joy

Joy is another Fruit of the Spirit where the world views it differently than God calls Christians to understand it. For most people in the world, joy is equated with happiness – if not extreme happiness. This is what is felt when everything is going your way in life.

Joy to a Christian is independent of your circumstances. It’s strongly tied to hope and faith. Because it is independent of circumstances, James could honestly write, “Count it all joy my brothers, when you meet trials and tribulations…” (James 1:2) or Paul could write,”For in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overwhelmed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)

Because children tend to feel emotions deeply, it can be really difficult for them to understand they can feel joy when they feel disappointed, sad or some other negative emotion, too.

Part of the trick with joy is the ability to look beyond the current circumstances. Your children will need to be able to focus on their hope and trust in God rather than being too focused on the negative impact of what is happening currently. It’s not denial. It’s a choice.

Joy has another facet. Read Psalm 119:1-9. Joyful people are those who are people of integrity, obey God’s laws, follow His instructions and search for Him with all of their hearts. Their is joy in truly being who God created you and your kids to be.

Your children can also benefit from learning how to find the blessings in the pain. Often, even in tough times, there are blessingS that God still gives us. It’s helping your kids focus on those good things rather than dwelling on the bad.

Christian joy can be tough at times. For some personality types, it will be perhaps extremely difficult. Children who are naturally more optimistic, will appear to have joy easily. Be aware though, that while their lack of joy may not be as drastic as it is for others, they can still lose some of their joy. They will need practice, just like your others kids with remaining joyful.

So what are some things you can do to help your kids be more joyful? Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Count your blessings. Joy has a strong connection to gratitude. Remembering to thank God for your blessings also serves to remind you of how very many blessings you still have. Have a gratitude moment at the end of the day as a family. Have everyone share two or three blessings from God they experienced that day. On rough days, help them dig deep and still find some blessings.
  • Cut the complaining. Complaining can become a really bad habit. Over time, it can cause your kids to always focus on the negative. When it gets bad enough, they may end up complaining even on the very best of days. Have a complaining jar. Anyone caught complaining, has to put in a coin or pull out a penalty. Or perhaps they have to say three positive things for every complaint they state. Let your kids catch you complaining and help you break bad habits, too.
  • Seek joy. People can be joyful even going through intense struggles. Often it is because they serve others and take the focus off of themselves. Or they give their pain and worry to God. Or they seek out those things that remind them of God’s love for them. Or they read the Psalms until they feel the joy returning. Help your kids find those things that help them be more joyful when it’s a struggle.
  • Spread the joy. Even people who aren’t yet Christians can experience a little of that joy when we do things to serve and love them during tough times. Work together to think of how you can also point those people who are struggling to God in thoughtful, loving ways as you love and serve them.

Joy will feel like a wave that crests and recedes many times for your children as they grow. Helping them keep their joy more constant will help also help them face life’s challenges with the joy that comes from their faith and hope in God.

Fun Ways to Teach Your Kids About Love

We rarely think about teaching kids how to love. When they are little, most children give lots of hugs and tell people they love them. The world, however, begins to slowly chip away at that pure, innocent love.

Depending on their circumstances and environment, at fairly young ages some children have already lost a lot of that original love for others. Because we live in a fallen world, even children raised in loving, Christian homes can have their love for others weakened.

When teaching your kids about the Fruit of the Spirit that is love, it’s important to help them understand the way God calls us to love others is very different from what the world usually calls love.

In the world, love is romantic or a word used casually to describe our favorite things. Love is often considered something that must be earned or is conditional.

The love God calls His people to live is a purer, higher, agape love that is unconditional. It is a love that can love our enemies and cause us to actually treat them well. It’s the love that’s described in 1 Corinthians 13.It’s a love that is all too rare in our world.

So what are some fun ways to help your kids begin to understand and consistently practice agape love? Here are a few of our favorite ideas.

  • Love the invisible. There are a lot of people in our world who are unseen by others. It may be because they are somehow different from others in their community or because they have jobs that are less valued. It may be because they are poor or struggling with a problem like substance abuse. It may be because they have special needs or are socially awkward. Talk with your children about seeing and loving the unseen people in their worlds. Maybe it’s the kid no one will sit with or is teased. How can you show love to them? Start with people in your community and show them love as a family. Then encourage your kids to act in similar ways at school. Kids can be cruel, so talk about what your kids should do if they are teased or harassed for showing love to the unseen people in their school.
  • Love our family. It seems no one can upset us as easily as our family. They live with us and know our weaknesses. Sometimes we take our frustration at the world out on family members – intentionally or unintentionally. Talk about the ways you aren’t currently being very loving to one another. What bad habits do you need to break? Challenge each other to try and do as many loving things for everyone in the family as they can over the course of a week. You can set any boundaries you want. At the end of the week, come back and talk about the things others did for you. How did they make you feel? How did it change the moods of family members or the atmosphere around your house? How long can you continue to act this way towards one another?
  • Love our neighbors. Kids love surprises. Why not spend time thinking of nice surprises you can do for your neighbors? Make them secret if you can. How much love can you spread in your neighborhood before you are caught? Is there some little kindness your family can regularly do for your neighbors to show them love all year?
  • Love your enemies. Whether it’s the “mean” teacher at school, the tough coach or the kid who is always mean to them, your kids may not call them enemies, but they have people in their lives that make it difficult to be loving. Who are these people? How does God want us to treat them? Why does He want us to be loving to people who seem so mean? How can your family show love to them? Can you shower them with so much love, you break down their defenses and see a more loving version of them? This may be the most challenging, but if your kids can master this, they are well on their way to being truly loving.

Be creative. Who else can your family love? What are some ways you can be more loving to everyone you meet every day? Make being loving to others a constant family goal.