Building Family Connections: Altruism Exercise
Often, as our kids grow up, we as parents become concerned about everyone pulling their weight. We think about chores and allowance, we might teach our kids to fold or wash their own laundry or take out the trash. Most parents agree that teaching our kids that they have some responsibility to the family is important. There are a variety of ways to think about chores and how to reward kids for doing them, but what about teaching them to perform small acts of altruism, too?
One way to do this is to encourage this kind of behavior within the family. Write down each family member’s name on a scrap of paper and put it in a bowl or hat. Once a week, maybe at dinner on Sunday for example, everyone pulls out one piece of paper, making sure that they don’t draw their own name. They will have one week to do something kind for that person. You can choose whether or not to keep these acts secret, but some examples include:
- clearing someone else’s dishes from the dinner table
- folding a load of laundry that isn’t yours
- making a cup of tea for someone just they way they like it
- offering to walk the dog when it isn’t your turn because you can see that the person whose turn it is is really busy
- letting someone else have the shower first without arguing
You can be as creative as you like. Along with the obvious benefit of knowing that someone will do something nice for you at least once this week, this activity has the added benefit of focusing everyone’s attention on those around them. You find yourself asking, “What could I do to help _____________ the most today?” You begin to really notice how the other members of your family are doing and what they might need. And it can be really fun to get caught doing something nice for someone. You never know, they might draw your name next week.