For those of you who are just tuning in, we are discussing practical habits we can instill in our kids to help form their character.
You can read about tip # 1 here
Briefly, I’m a mom of 5 under the age of 10 and I definitely don’t have it all figured out and I dont think I ever will! But what I do know is that I learn best from hearing from other parents and their experiences.
In this series I’m sharing little tips that seem to be working out for my family that hopefully could benefit others as well.
So here we go with practical habit # 2.
Tell them about their treasure box in heaven
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal…” Mathew 6:20
All of us want our kids to be kind and helpful, all for the right reasons. We want them to perform acts of kindness not to receive a pat on the back or to hear a thank you or to get stickers or candy, but because it’s the right thing to do and ultimately for the glory of God.
So this particular habit is to help get that message across.
It all started with my oldest son who has always been very outgoing and very audaciously friendly. When we would be at Mass, or the park, or the grocery store, it wasn’t uncommon for him, all bright eyed and excited, to approach a group of kids he didn’t know or sometimes even adults, and start conversation with them.
Adults always loved it! But kids, not always (which is quite normal, of course.)
Sometimes kids would ignore him or respond a little rudely. I’m sure we’ve all experienced this with our kids in one way or another. It’s nothing to frown upon since kids are kids and they are still learning how to socialize.
My son however, started feeling the hit from these encounters when he was about 4 years old. I started seeing the disappointment in him when he was ignored.
I would tell him that kids are still learning to be social and we all are learning together and some kids are shy and it doesn’t mean they don’t like him and people’s responses shouldn’t affect us. . . etc.
He listened and I think he understood but I saw that after each negative experience, he approached people less and less. And that to me was really unfortunate; a super joyful and friendly kid slowly becoming hesitant to be himself.
I kept telling him the same thing I always did until one day out of nowhere this idea of a treasure box in heaven popped into my head.
So here’s what I told my son:
“For every act of kindness you do big or small, an amazing treasure goes into your treasure box in heaven. Every single good thing you do out of love is never unnoticed by God and brings a huge smile to His face. The treasure is even more amazing when you do something good but are treated unfairly.”
Mind you he was 4 years old, so this was fascinating news to him!
I told him to visualize his treasure box in heaven: to think about all the good things that he did and imagine God placing his treasure in his treasure box. I told him to visualize a bigger treasure for those times he was ignored.
His face totally lit up and he was smiling from ear to ear.
This visual of his treasure box made the world of a difference.
He was back to his old self. He stopped caring as much about people’s reactions and he truly believed he was being rewarded in heaven, which in fact he was.
Since then I’ve had four more kids and have told them all about their special treasure box.
Often times when I notice them being kind, I say something like “Oh that’s great, another treasure in your treasure box! Yay! God’s smiling!” They absolutely love it and it’s just part of our every day.
It’s important to note though, that we don’t want kids to be so caught up in collecting treasures that they miss the point. So it’s important to emphasize that everything should be done out of love for God and others. No love, no treasure 🙂
I think this has been really helpful for them to keep perspective when faced with negatvity and it has encouraged them to be more proactive in being helpful to others.
There are of course times that they are too upset to be consoled by their “treasure,” but at times like that, I think it does help them to bounce back quicker.
The idea is, if they have been proactively storing up their treasure in heaven since their earliest memory, it is probably more likely that it becomes muscle memory for them and part of their character into adulthood. There’s no guarentee of course but we can try to instill what we can and hope for the best.
The concept of the treasure box is true for all of us, both children and adults alike.
The great thing about kids though, is that they are so quick to believe, while us adults find it so difficult to have childlike faith.
Imagine telling your co-worker about their treasure box in heaven next time they are angry about not getting the applause they were looking for! Not sure how that would go!
The truth is, though, we are called to live for Christ not for others.
I hope you found this helpful!