Children are the walking, talking equivalent of a sponge. They soak in everything they see, everything they hear, and everything they experience. They notice everything, except for your persistent reminders to clean their rooms, of course. Humor aside, kids learn by example whether it’s their peers, their parents, or their educators. This is the reason it’s important you learn to lead by example to help offset any negative examples they might encounter elsewhere. It’s also the reason you must teach your children to love your neighbor as yourself.
Learning to love your neighbor as yourself is one of the commandments found in the Bible, and it’s a valuable life lesson all parents must teach their children. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself,” is stated in Matthew, Chapter 22, Verses 37 to 39.
The premise behind this commandment is to love all people as you love yourself regardless of any outside factors. You may view this as the basis for the Golden Rule, which is to treat others as you wish to be treated.
WHY SHOULD YOU LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF?
In this context, it’s imperative you realize that the phrase “your neighbor” does not merely apply to the person who lives in the house next door or the one across the street. Rather, it applies to all people in the world. This verse means to practice justice and fair treatment of all people, and that’s the simple answer. Be kind and be respectful of all people, even those who do wrong to you or the world.
You should love your neighbor as yourself for a straightforward reason, which is to set a positive example. When you learn to act and behave justly unto others, you teach everyone watching you to do the same. You teach love and tolerance rather than hatred and fear of differences.
You set the example by which the world should follow, and every person who chooses to love their neighbor makes a positive impact on the rest of the world. One small act of patience, tolerance, and kindness can start a ripple effect into the rest of society.
10 PRACTICAL WAYS TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HOW TO LOVE THY NEIGHBOR
Teaching your kids to love your neighbor as yourself is a simple concept once you realize it’s not about changing the world. It’s about changing your own heart, which will allow them to learn to change their own hearts. Imagine if everyone lived by this rule and if everyone was more willing to offer a helping hand rather than a judgmental stare.
One of the simplest ways to love your neighbor as yourself and to teach your kids to do the same is to practice your manners. Say please, thank you, yes ma’am/sir and no ma’am/sir. When you use your manners, you teach your kids the importance of doing the same, which is a simple way of showing respect to others.
PRACTICE USING KIND WORDS
In other words, don’t gossip. Stop speaking ill of others and their life choices, and instead ask yourself what you can do to help someone else who is clearly in need of your assistance. For example, instead of judging someone for always running her kids late to school while still in her pajamas with food all over their faces, ask yourself what you can do to help her ease her issues.
SHARE A GIFT
Do you have a gift you can share? For example, do you bake delicious cookies? The next time you bake some cookies, save some and take them to your neighbor, or deliver them to a friend a church or school or even the mailman. It’s a simple gesture, but it helps your kids learn the value of sharing their gifts.
DONATE YOUR TIME
Donating money is always helpful, but donating time is beautiful, too. Donate time by volunteering to wrap Christmas gifts for families in need with your kids. Take them to the shelter to help serve meals or donate their old toys and gently used clothing.
Ask them to host a car wash to raise money to take to the local food bank so they can see the joy and excitement on the faces of those who work there when presented with your gift. Money can be made every day. Time is never something you can get back.
TEACH YOUR KIDS TO OFFER HELP
Start by grabbing any shopping carts not already put into the cart return at the supermarket when you shop. Grab any trash you see while you’re walking. Help someone by holding the door. Ask someone with his or her hands full if you can help them out when they look as if they’re struggling. Offer help, and your kids will learn to do the same.
REALLY LISTEN AND BE ENGAGED
This is a time when people are far too distracted in every situation. They are too busy on their phones and devices, and many are only half-listening and unengaged.
Practice putting down your phone when you are with others so you can really listen to what they have to say. Showing your kids that other people are more important than devices is a great way to help them learn to be engaged and respectful.
DELIVER SOME FLOWERS
Do you know someone who is sick or having a bad day? Someone who simply always makes you smile no matter what? Deliver them a bouquet and let your children see what a simple gesture can do for someone’s mood.
It will always brighten someone’s day, and their gratitude will warm your heart. Your kids will learn to love that feeling of making someone smile, and they’ll be more inclined to do the same thing for others.
HELP YOUR NEIGHBORS
Your physical neighbors or your neighbors from school, church, sports, or anywhere else in life always need help with something. Does a neighbor with a small baby at home need help to weed her overgrown garden? Ask your children to offer their assistance weeding so a new mother can spend time with her baby. Let them help an elderly neighbor put away their holiday decorations. Teach them the value of a helping hand.
Someone just had a baby, lost someone they loved, got some bad news, was in an accident, suffered an injury, is struggling in some other way. There is always a person like this in your life, and there is always someone who could use a home-cooked meal to help them out.
Go home, get your kids involved, and make a meal to deliver to that person. Let your kids come with you and let them offer to set their table or clean up after dinner. It’s a beautiful way to show you care.
A new neighbor on the block, a new family at church, or a new child at school probably feel new. It’s a scary feeling to know no one, but it’s an easy fix when you love your neighbor as yourself, and you extend an invitation to them. It can be an invitation to come to dinner, to go to the park, to have lunch or coffee. It can be anything so long as you invite them to get to know them.
WHY IT'S IMPORTANT TO TEACH CHILDREN TO LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF
There are numerous reasons you should teach your children to love your neighbor as yourself, but the single most important reason is that it makes your children better people. They’ll learn to be respectful adults who positively contribute to the world.
They learn to treat others with respect, they learn to make friends easily, and they learn the importance of being a good person. The world needs more good people.
Children are the future of the world and teaching them to love your neighbor as yourself is the most important lesson you can provide them. This is one simple way to guarantee that they learn to become well-rounded, kind, and enjoyable.
You increase their chances of making good friends who have the same values rather than fair-weather friends who make poor choices. Their positive influence might influence a child who isn’t being led by positive example at home.
The world will always be filled with negativity and those who make poor decisions. There will always be those who fall short of their full potential. However, there are far more people in the world who do good. As the late Mr. Rogers once said, “When I was a boy, and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Be the helper and teach your children to be the helpers.