My youngest son is 3 years old, and he, like all of us, struggles to put others first. His selfish moments, though, tend to be louder—and at the same time, funnier.
For example, there was the moment a few months ago when he was having an extra-difficult time playing with his twin sister. My wife had taught him to treat girls with respect and kindness, and even had taught him to be a “gentleman”—a word that I reminded him of that afternoon when he and his sister were fighting over a toy.
“But I don’t want to be a gentleman!” he screamed to no one in particular, tugging even harder at that toy, determined to get it back.
He was perfectly fine with the death of chivalry that afternoon, as long as he got his way.
Of course, it wasn’t the first time that he had exhibited a stubborn streak of selfishness, nor is he alone. His sister often is the instigator, and if not her, it’s her 7-year-old brother.
Young couples who deny the doctrine of original sin get a wake-up call when they have their first child. A baby’s first words often are, in order, “da-da” and “ma-ma,” followed quickly by “no!” and then “mine!”
Children aren’t taught to be selfish. It comes naturally—and then tugs at each of us every day throughout adulthood until we breathe our last breath.
We can teach our children to be unselfish while learning valuable lessons ourselves. Here are four ideas: