I wanted to be intentional about teaching Judah how to encourage other people. Some people have asked me what are my favorite things to do to encourage others with Judah and here are a few of my favorite.
If you have a gift whether it is crochet, sewing, arranging flowers, baking or acts of service. Bless others with that gift. I love to crochet and one of my favorite things to crochet are joy banners. I've crochet so many I could probably crochet this banner in my sleep.
I love writing out random notes to strangers to encourage them. What I will do is give the banner with the note to Judah and point out someone who looks discouraged and say "Judah go and encourage that person sitting over there". He will walk up with the biggest smile and say "Here you go. Have a good day!". Whenever someone is handed something by a smiling toddler they typically smile.
We also give banners to people in places we frequent a lot. We gave a joy banner to our friends in the post office last December and it's still hanging up. We have also given out banners to all of the Starbuck shops we go to, the Library and the Fire Department.
If you feel like you don't have something to give you can always buy donuts. Everyone loves donuts. On a special day I like to get a box of donuts and put them in mini bags and let Judah deliver them to people in our neighborhood. We live close to a College University and we have students walking all over our neighborhood. They love getting free snacks from a toddler. We also like to leave these in our mailbox with a note for our mailman or will wait for the trash men to stop by for pick up and give them some donuts and a juice.
We like to bring donuts to everyone. Sometimes I will have Judah drop off donuts for the childcare workers at my Wednesday morning bible study or I will have him drop off donuts for the librarians at our favorite library.
Sometimes when we are in line we get donuts for the person in front of us or behind us. Judah loves giving donuts to construction crew members. Whenever Judah sees a construction crew at work or hears the trash men pulling into our neighborhood he will ask me if we have donuts or muffins to give to them.
We always "adopt a soldier" while they are deployed. In the past four years we have adopted four. Two have come back and two are still deployed. Judah likes to draw notes for his "soldier hero friends" and will now ask me to pick things up while we are out at Wegmans or Target that we can send to his friends. After years of showing Judah the encouragement packages he now understands that we are encouraging guys who are protecting us.
You can also base your encouragement off the need of your community. Last October our government was on furlough for awhile. I had Judah help me go door to door collecting food to donate to the local food banks that were affected by the furlough.
One of our favorite places to encourage people is Starbucks. We have a drive-thru one here and I like to pay for the persons drink behind us and give him or her a note with a crochet banner.
Judah also loves handing out daisies to customers at the Starbucks near the Fairfax Wegmans. They have a floral shop next door and we buy $10 worth of daisies. I cut them up to individual daisies so he can pass them out. Then I get to sit down and watch Judah run up to each person who enters Starbucks. I absolutely love watching Judah's heart fill up with encouragement as he passes out these flowers to complete strangers. Even the grumpiest person who walks in smiles at receiving a daisy.
I like to occasionally make tear offs of "take what you need" and we will tape them up either around our neighborhood or around the college campus near us. Judah understands that these are to encourage people and he helps me tape them to the mailboxes.
I have noticed after years of showing Judah how to encourage others the desire to encourage now comes as second nature to him. In a way I think it has taught him to be more social and outgoing to people we interact with through out our day.