The Power of Extending a Helping Hand


Dr. Gayatri Bezboruah
"Come on, let us all help daddy bring the groceries in," or "Yes, yes, mummy will need to do a lot for the party, so let's ask her how we can help" are common statements we hear or make in a home with children. Sometimes our little ones just disappear and can't be located till we really hunt them out, or they come to share the load because they don't have a choice. The breath-taking memories for parents are when our kids come willingly and help us with pleasure, delight and laughter. Providing assistance or being useful is the main definition of being helpful and is an excellent quality and impressive characteristic to display. No matter what we do as parents, everything falls back on us about teaching our children the most important characteristics that will get them through their adult years. When we are at the store, and we hold a door open for someone, if someone at the grocery store has their hands full, and we offer them help with their bags, or if someone we don't know drops something and we pick it up for them, our children, by seeing us involved in such activity quickly learn how being helpful can both be fun and rewarding.
When our children begin to demonstrate helpful characteristics we must remember to reward their behavior. "That was really great the way you helped that person out. You get to pick the next family activity we do together. You deserve a reward for being so kind and helpful."
We also need to ask our little ones how it made them feel when they were helpful to someone. When we get them to help out once and they see how wonderful that feels they will want to continue to be helpful as long as they can. Even when others are helpful to them we should talk to them about how they feel. 
One great way to get our children motivated with helping others is to take them to programs that need volunteer helpers. Helpfulness can come in many different ways as well. We should talk to our children about being helpful at home, in school, with their friends and family and how that will emanate back to them when they are the ones who need help. When they do something helpful for someone else, that person will do something to be helpful to them to repay their kindness and this type of chain continues on and on. 
Another wonderful way to motivate our little ones is to read to them stories that center on being helpful. Talking to our children about the story, asking them questions about the characters and their actions makes them start thinking about a lot of issues. "Did you think rabbit did the right thing at the beginning of the story? How would you have done this? How do you think squirrel felt about what rabbit did?" One great way to get our children motivated with helping others is to take them to programs that need volunteer helpers. Whether that is at a homeless shelter, a children's home, a senior citizen home or a hospital we can volunteer to serve the homeless, read to children, play a game with seniors or do various other activities that are helpful to other members in our community to get them started on being helpful now and in the future.
Dr Gayatri Bezboruah is Professor of Paediatrics, Gauhati Medical College, Guwahati. She can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]