A friend loves at all times… – Proverbs 17:17
How do you teach your child to be a good friend? Teach them to love.
Maybe we should just stop this post right there, because that just about sums up the single ingredient to being a good friend. I have an idea, though. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what clues we can find to this four letter word.
L O V E
It means we must first love God and love ourselves, His creation.
Mark 12:30-31 says,
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.
Teaching our kids to love who they are and who God created them to be will help them to love others. Loving others will then be a natural outflow of what they are already practicing. How do we teach them to love themselves? Call out who they are. Encourage them in their interests. Speak blessing over their lives.
It’s about others. Wait. Didn’t we just talk about loving ourselves? Well, yes, it starts there, but it can’t end there. Jesus knew this better than anyone else when He went to the Cross for our sins.
God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
Teaching your child that life in general is not all about them can be an arduous task, but teaching them to love their friends selflessly will set them up for deep friendships that will last. A few ideas on where to start…
- Have them invite a friend over to play, and talk to your child beforehand about letting their friend choose what they do.
- Encourage your child to treat their friend like the guest of honor, and throughout the play date, ask if they want anything to eat or drink.
- Ask your child to notice if there are kids at school that keep to themselves at recess and encourage them to invite them to play. Andy Andrews book, Henry Hodges Needs A Friend, is a great read to help kids understand what it might feel like to be left or to not fit in.
It gives expecting nothing in return. Oh, how we like to receive, especially children. A brilliant thing happens when we give. It often inspires others to do the same. What a beautiful friendship when everyone is giving toward it!
My daughter recently came up with an idea to buy a necklace for her friend that moved to Brazil. She got her money together and asked me to take her to a jewelry shop in the mall. I started to feel bad that she was spending her own money, but in the same instant, God spoke and said, “No, this is good. She’s learning to give and be a good friend.” She was so proud to walk out of that store with a gift that she paid for, and I was so proud of her.
It’s like building blocks. We love ourselves, so we can love others well. Loving others selflessly helps us to give, expecting no return. God is so smart!
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. – John 13:34-35
When we love our friends, we are being that bright light of Jesus. Isn’t that what we all want for ourselves and our kids?
How do you teach your children to be a good friend and to love others selflessly?