Teaching Toddlers about Poverty

It began with frustration.  “Mom, can you get me water? Mom, can I have a snack?  Mom, I need you to open this? Mom, will you fix my toy?” (all in the span of 3 minutes, right?!?)

And out of my mouth came the words, “Did you know there are boys and girls around this world without a mommy or daddy? We need to start being thankful for all we have.”

Is that a fair statement for a 4 year old?  Probably not.  And in the moment, I regretted saying it. But now, looking back, I am so thankful for this conversation.

Almost a year has passed since this particular incident, and it is amazing the dialogue that has been opened up in my house.  Lillia understands that Trades of Hope is helping others and that there are kids less fortunate than she is.  Often she will bring it up in conversation without prompting, and I have even overheard her telling it to her brothers.

She has never met a person who is homeless or an orphan.  She has never held hands with a child who is starving and drinking dirty water.  She has never seen a child her own age working in cocoa fields or begging in the street.  And I have still kept a lot of those details from her.

But she knows that her middle class, American life is not the only life people lead. She knows there are people hurting.  And she knows we can show compassion by considering them…and then praying.

Does this quell the tantrums and selfish requests? Not really.  But it has shown me that kids are not void of compassion.  With a Master’s Degree under my belt, I am well versed in the research that kids are ego-centric.

But my life experience is different.   Making a difference starts with knowledge, and kids are filled with curiosity and wonder.  And maybe, just maybe, God has put a yearning in their hearts for a bigger purpose, too.

Have you ever considered starting a dialogue with your toddler about poverty?


2 Comments Add yours

  1. I don’t have kids yet, but this is something I’m going to file away for when I do -what a great encouragement for them!


  2. Tricia says:

    I agree – it’s important to have ongoing conversations with kids as they grow so they’ll learn about compassion and hopefully be greatful for what they have been blessed with.


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