Teaching Them to Have a Tender Heart Toward Others

Teaching Them to have Tender Hearts for Others

I used to worry a little about that boy.

I mean, it couldn’t be easy being born right after our special-needs little girl. She required so much looking after and so much of our extra care. She depends on us for quite a few of her needs.

And I didn’t want him to suffer for it (difficult words for a mom to write).

But I see now that I needn’t have worried because God knew all along. He knew that this would turn out to be a blessing more than a burden to that young man. God knew that this would be an opportunity for him to learn to be considerate of those who are weaker, smaller, or poorer than himself. Such a sweet and precious lesson for anyone to learn, don’t you think? I want all our children to have that kind of heart for others.

But you don’t have to have a special sister to become tenderhearted. You can teach tenderness to your children in many different ways:

Tenderhearted is more a character quality than a personality trait. While some children seem naturally more “sensitive” than others, this doesn’t mean we can’t teach thoughtfulness to all our children. And, yes, it is something that needs to be taught – just like we’d teach honesty and obedience.

For example, “My child, did you know that we need to have compassion on him or her? We’ve been given so much and God wants us to be mindful of others with less. What are some ways you can bless that other person?”

Tenderhearted should be demonstrated as well as taught. My children need to experience my tenderness toward themselves, as well as watch me in action toward others. While I wouldn’t want to make a big “show” of such things, it does help if I quietly explain what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

For example, “I’m helping Sissy get a drink of water because, you see, she can’t do that for herself like you and I can. And I can get you one too, if you’d like?”

Tenderhearted means giving your children a chance to think of others. So don’t do it for them. Often we moms have this impulse to serve everyone around us – and so deprive our children from the blessing to get to experience it for themselves. Make sure they have the opportunity to help others.

For example, while I could take care of all of Sissy’s needs myself; the real loving thing to do is to give her brothers and sisters the chance to look after some of her care too. “Do you think that your sister would like to play baseball with you? What can you do to help her play along with everyone else?”

Tenderhearted

The more this tenderness is taught and experienced in your home, the more natural it becomes for your child. While it doesn’t necessarily happen “automatically”, it can grow into a normal part of your family culture and spread to the others all around you.

What a beautiful gift you can give your children! A tender heart for others.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…(Eph. 4:32a)

So what are some of the ways that you teach your children to be tenderhearted? I always appreciate hearing the unique ways each family goes about it!

In His grace,

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  • http://www.ziebartfamily.com Hallie

    this is really, REALLY helpful. I especially think about this topic as our family grows, and as various special needs come through our doors and ministry. Thank you for your insight and pointers.

  • http://andasprinkleoflove.com/ Rebecca

    This really blessed my heart this morning. We have a special needs daughter along with two younger children. What a blessing to watch them love and care for each other and to naturally extend it to others. When it is in your home everyday it is a pretty easy and natural process to teach this lesson (well, for us). The insight you’ve given is right on. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing. ~Blessings~

  • Heidi

    This is beautiful. Thank you for this.

  • Heather W.

    Great article, thank you for sharing! I think it is always best for any lesson to make it something that your children can personally relate to. When we are teaching our children to be aware of others feelings or being excluded, we relate it back to something they live with every day. Both of my children have food allergies, and every time there is a birthday party, snack at Sunday school, or even school hot lunch they cannot have what everyone else is having. Since they know how it feels to be excluded from sometimes very special things, they are more compassionate toward others in a similar circumstance.

  • http://club31women.com/ Lisa

    I think you are so right! It does help to appeal to them on how they might feel in that situation – especially if it can relate directly back to their own experience. Wise mama!

  • http://daringdaughters.org Ann Dunagan

    Blessings to you, Lisa!

    What a beautiful article, from a lovely and tenderhearted lady! Thanks for your ministry to others . . . and for raising a family that can be such a shining example of love and life. It was a JOY to meet you and three of your daughters. I look forward, Lord willing, to someday meeting your other daughter, and the rest of your family!

    You’re all SO special!!!
    Ann

  • http://club31women.com/ Lisa

    Thank you, Ann! You’ve been such an encouragement to us as well. Was just thinking about you today!

  • http://rachelwojo.com Rachel Wojnarowski\

    Thanks for linking up! This post is so close to my heart, as you know. I pinned it to my parenting board and my special needs board. Thank you so much for writing!

  • Sandy

    I love this article! And it’s so true. We have 7 boys, one adopted with special needs and two permanent foster guys with special needs. They have all been the biggest blessing to our other boys because they know first hand about prayer for daily life and how to bless those brothers, with the outcome being God blesses them back!

  • http://club31women.com/ Lisa

    You’re welcome, Rachel! I’m blessed to be able to walk with you…even from across the country.

  • Nicole Beard

    This is so beautiful Lisa! My little one is just 7 months old, but I definitely want to cultivate a compassionate heart in him, with God’s help. I think starting now and being tender hearted towards him and my husband is important!

    Blessings,
    Nicole @ WKH

  • http://www.avirtuouswoman.org/ Melissa @ A Virtuous Woman

    I totally agree. My five children are compassionate because I have communicated compassion to them and helped them “practice” compassion. We need to show compassion to our children – so many parents are overly harsh to their kids. So often I hear parents in stores snap or speak rudely to their children or show a lack of compassion when they are hurt or suffering in some small way. Compassion begins at home.

  • http://Club31Women.com/ Lisa Jacobson

    Thank you, Melissa, and I appreciate your caution about “being overly harsh”. I love the way Scripture talks about how He “gently leads those who are with young” (Isa. 40:11) as our example. I’ve often had that verse come to my mind as a good reminder to me with our young ones. Blessings on you and your children!