Raising unselfish kids in our society is quite a challenge. It is very important that loving others becomes a part of a child's life from a very early point. It should not be something they have to learn, it is simply who they are as they grow up. Find opportunities to talk to your child about others, about what they don't have, what they might feel, and show them by example that you care for others. As you do simple things like make dinner or run to pick up the cleaning talk to your child about how what you are doing is a way you show love to your family or to their daddy. (or mommy)
When Trinity was 4 years old we realized one of our greatest fears was to raise a spoiled North Dallas child that was selfish. We prayed and God led me to a book about raising unselfish children. We took a lesson from that book and began by telling her about people that do not have a home and have to sleep outside at night. We asked her what things a person like that would wish they had. She mentioned coats, blankets, a house... We then asked her if she had any old coats we could give to someone like that and went to the closet to look. Soon we all had found a few coats we really didn't need anymore. Then we ask her if any of her friends had coats they might not need anymore. We continued to lead her through this and she collected over 120 coats for them by asking her friends, people at John's work and at my work. We helped but we let her be the one to ask and to count and then ultimately to hand the coats to the workers at the shelter. This small conversation led to her repeating this on her own for several years!
Here are some ways you can begin to build a heart for others at a young age.
1. Collect canned goods for a food pantry. Have your child put items in a sack and let them ask people you know for a can. Let them deliver it and count the cans. Lead, but let them do the work.
2. Make cards for people at a nursing home or Meals on Wheels. Talk to your child about who they love to play and hang out with. Then ask what if you didn't have that person? Would you be sad? Talk to them about how many people do not have those kinds of friends and are very lonely. Give them supplies to make cards and then take the cards and watch faces light up!
3. Have a blanket making party and make fleece knot blankets for an animal shelter. Talk about animals that are God's creatures and might be lost and scared and how a soft blanket can bring them comfort.
Come up with your own idea from a passion you have. The most important thing is to let your child do the work and to have meaningful conversation (at their level) about why that is something God would want you do.