4 Ways to Teach a Child about Being a Good Neighbor

My brother-in-law had a farming accident that resulted in a fractured skull and brain trauma. We thank God as he makes a speedy recovery. We also thank God for His presence as my brother-in-law got into his pickup and drove himself home before he collapsed.

It’s Crunch Time on the Farm.

Fall is when we harvest our cotton. My husband and his brother are in partnership. With one brother in the hospital, half of the partnership is missing at a crucial time. This also happened five years ago when my husband had heart surgery.

two farmers standing by cotton stripper good neighborTears come to my eyes when I think about our neighbors.
We had a dozen men offer to leave their own harvest to help my husband bring in the partnership’s crop. The day after the accident, two men showed up with their harvesters. Today there are three. This is “neighbor helping neighbor” at its finest. Seen in the picture are my husband (on the left) and one of the two brothers who helped the first day. The picture was taken by Kevin Lewis for the Plainview Herald. For the related story, see http://www.myplainview.com/news/article_5d2c39f8-061f-11e1-99ec-001cc4c03286.html.

Teach Your Children about Being Neighbors.

As I thought about what neighbors in this farming community are doing for us, I wondered, “Are we teaching our children this kind of unselfish response to the need of neighbors in crisis?” How do we teach them to set aside their own needs to help a neighbor?

  1. Teach Christ’s definition of neighbor. Read them Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). Children are very concrete in their thinking and see neighbors as the people living next door. Explain, “Samaritans were not liked by their neighbors. The Samaritan man, even knowing that the injured man probably hated him, stopped to help. This would be like a child in your class who is disliked and teased by many stopping to help one of the teasers pick up his dropped books. Can you think of some people in your school you might call neighbors even though they are outside your group?”
  2. Teach about setting aside one’s own activities to help. Children have a hard time distinguishing between need and want. Give them concrete examples to teach what activities can be put aside to help someone else. For example, tell your child that he could give up time on a video game to help the elderly neighbor carry in her groceries. His video game is a “want,” not a need. If she needs help while he is doing his homework, he would have to find time for the homework later. That’s what the farmers are doing for us.
  3. Teach to give 100% – plus extra – when helping. The Good Samaritan in Jesus’ story not only helped the man by caring for his wounds and getting him to an inn, he also left money for extended care and offered more if needed. Tell your children, “When you help Mrs. Jones with her groceries, always ask, ‘Can I do anything else before I leave?'”
  4. Model being a good neighbor. Let your children see you helping others even when it is inconvenient to you and your schedule. Children learn more by what they see than by what we tell them.

Bring being a neighbor into your child’s world.

Spend time brainstorming opportunities to be a neighbor. Be sure that your children are aware of those who especially need someone to treat them well: children with disabilities, children who are being bullied, children who are so poor that it is painfully obvious to everyone, and children who have annoying mannerisms that make them unpopular. Ask your child how he or she can be a good neighbor to those children.


How are you teaching your children to set aside their own needs to help a neighbor? Share your ideas with us.






  1. Teri Jones says

    Thank you for this reminder. It is easy to allow our time to revolve around our family members’ activities, thinking we cannot spare time for anything extra.

    We are encouraging our sons in that when we give the first portion of our time to honor God, he blesses the rest. We never say in hindsight, “I wish I hadn’t spent time helping that person.” In fact, it’s one of the few unscheduled activities we can say that about. You’ve got me thinking now–what are other ways to teach our kids to look at everything with eternal perspective?

    • Carole says

      It would be nice to be able to say “if you will do these three things with your kids, they will look at everything with eternal perspective.” The truth is, you must spend 18 years or more, talking to them about what the Bible says. In Deuteronomy 6:7-8, we read how often we should talk to our children about God’s commandments: “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.” That means talking to our children about how God relates to all the activities of their day every day. It’s a big order, but it’s what God says tells us to do.

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