This is the second of a two-part blog on things to teach your child outside of their general academic education. The first part to this article can be found here.
Let’s pick up where we left off at number six.
6. Teach your children to call people Mr., Mrs. and Miss
Not everyone may agree, but addressing adults as Mr., Mrs. or Miss is important. Titles establish age boundaries and conveys respect. A child addressing someone as Mr. or Mrs. communicates to an adult “I acknowledge that you are older than me (i.e. you are not my peer or buddy). Because you are older than me (and probably wiser) you deserve my respect.”
We require our kids to address anyone in a position of authority as Miss/Mrs./Mr. unless the adult being addressed specifically requests for our children to call them by their first name. My husband and I make this (sometimes awkward) formality easier for our children by doing the same thing ourselves that we expected of them. If someone is a generation or two older we often refer to them as Mr. or Mrs., unless they instruct us otherwise.
7. Teach them to be thankful/grateful
Be sure your child thanks those that assist him, like a teacher or a pastor. Teach your child to offer heartfelt, look-em-in-the-eye thank-yous for gifts they receive, and then have then follow-up with a hand-written thank you note. Kids should be quick to thank people who offer them rides, hold doors open for them, invite them to parties or give of their time to them.
In addition, be sure to make time to talk with your child about being grateful. A roof over their head, clothes on their backs, and food in the refrigerator are all things to be extremely thankful for. But don’t forget that their family relationships, toys, working vehicles, teachers and leaders are things to be thankful for as well.
8. Teach them to see the beauty in the simple
Take them outside at sunset to let them experience God’s color palette. Take them out during a harvest moon to be amazed at the unusual brightness of the night sky. Don’t hesitate to stop while on a hike to examine a monarch butterfly that has alighted on a flower. Listen together to the rustling of the fall leaves in the breeze and the sounds of the crickets in summer. Let them experience the stillness of fresh fallen snow and the fierceness of a blazing fire. If their eyes are glued too often to a television set or video screen they will miss out on the beauty of God’s world that is swirling all around them.
9. Teach them to be creative (by letting them be bored)
Sometimes having less is more. Children can do amazing things with sticks and rocks when they are forced to because no other toy is around. Children don’t need more toys to spawn creativity – they need less! Don’t be afraid if you hear the words “Mom, I’m bored!” That means they are getting closer to resorting to using their creative juices. Creativity is birthed from boredom! Roxaboxen is a wonderful book about a group of children who used items from home, and rocks, wood, and bottles from an old field, to create a make-shift town of their own. I encourage you to read it and others like it to spark their creative energy. Whenever I read that story to the children they would, without fail, ask to go outside to create a Roxaboxen of their own.
10. Teach them how to serve
Oh, how important this is. For even the son of man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45, esv
In our narcissistic, self-centered, self-righteous culture, our kids must learn to go against the flow. Have them stay and help clean up after a party. Bring them with you to take food to a hurting family. Work as a family to shovel snow from the neighbors’ sidewalks. Help trim grandmother’s bushes or mow grandpa’s yard. Small children can carry drinks to thirsty guests. Older children can help disabled relatives up the front steps or open doors for others.
So there you have it! Ten things to teach your child outside of their general education. Of course, there are lots more than just these ten! What would you include?