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Taking A Moment to Teach: Turn Passing Conversation Into Meaningful Dialogue

Quick story: Once, there was a terribly messy little girl. Despite numerous prodding from her mother, she couldn’t seem to keep her clothes in the closet or her toys put away. One afternoon, her frustrated mother finally announced: “If your stuff isn’t cleaned up by this afternoon, we’re giving it away to other little girls who don’t have the things they need.”

When the mother came back later to check on her daughter’s progress, she was stunned to see the room clean and bare—and her daughter’s toys, clothes, and books stuffed into big bags. “I have lots of stuff, Mommy,” the daughter explained. “I want to give my things to the kids who don’t have anything.” 


Quick story: Once, there was a terribly messy little girl. Despite numerous prodding from her mother, she couldn’t seem to keep her clothes in the closet or her toys put away. One afternoon, her frustrated mother finally announced: “If your stuff isn’t cleaned up by this afternoon, we’re giving it away to other little girls who don’t have the things they need.”

When the mother came back later to check on her daughter’s progress, she was stunned to see the room clean and bare—and her daughter’s toys, clothes, and books stuffed into big bags. “I have lots of stuff, Mommy,” the daughter explained. “I want to give my things to the kids who don’t have anything.” 

When we heard this true story, we were reminded of what great capacity for generosity our children have. They are never too young to learn to think about others. If we want to raise our children to become great philanthropists, we need to pay attention to the teaching moments happening naturally throughout our day. This is a great reminder to listen to your children. What are they talking about? What do they care about? Where do they need some perspective?

Application

Teachable moments might arise from a positive interaction (the little girl who was inspired to donate all her worldly possessions) or a negative interaction (your child makes an unfeeling comment about someone less fortunate). Either way, it’s up to you to seize that moment and make it truly meaningful.

Four questions to help turn passing conversation into meaningful dialogue:

  • Why do you think that happens?
  • What do you mean by that?
  • What do you think?
  • How could we help?