Acts of Service

Updated: Mar 23

You are serving your child almost every moment . The younger your child is, the more you serve. It can be as easy as tying her hair, or cooking her meal.

This is very common, as you will be doing them these services, until the age where they are capable of doing that particular task. Yet, there are some conditions to it.

When we feed our young babies, we are not expecting them to feed us back. There is no intent to ask for return of favors. At a younger age, when the child is unable to execute certain actions, they copy what we do. We can easily picture a small child holding a piece of stick, acting as though he/she is mopping the floor. In reality, the floor might be already clean, or his/her action could actually be messing up the floor. This is a simple yet classic example of social learning.

Slowly, as they mature, we can then start guiding them, by also including them in some acts of service for the whole family. However, one common trap the parents might easily fall into, is giving “command” rather than making a request invite to do the task together. For example, instead of saying “You have to start washing your own dishes after meals”, it can be rephrased into “can you help me, by cleaning the dishes after dinner?” This not only removes the “command”, but shares the ownership of the task.

When children copy and adopt our actions, we have unknowingly started shaping their value systems. The meaning in which children associate with our acts of service, will also determine their emotional maturity.


Children are always internalizing what we do, and we cannot undermine the power of social learning. Especially in this digital age, once we are unable to fulfill their curiosity, they turn to the cyber-world to learn. That itself is already creating a lot more issues. Nonetheless, with proper parental guidance and strong emotional connection, you will still remain as the main source of influence for your child. I end with this short story.

One day during dinner, a father scooped some food into a coconut shell and directed the grandfather to eat by the door. When his son asked why, the father replied “Grandpa is old and weak, he might drop a normal glass bowl and break it. If he spills the food over, he will dirty the house too.” Hence, the son ran out and returned with more coconuts, and happily told his father “Don’t worry, I have found enough coconuts to prepare for you when you grow old."

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