“You will discover that you have two hands. One is for helping yourself and the other is for helping others.” – Audrey Hepburn
Kids are born with a natural sense of compassion and desire to help others. That’s why you can see a toddler offering a baby a comforting toy or a five-year-old consoling their friend who fell on the playground. Although they do have that sense from the start, in order for it to stay with them and become a significant part of their lives, they need encouraging, support and a good example from their parents. Here are some ways that will help you succeed in that.
Teach by Example
Almost everything that a parent should teach the kids can be taught by giving example first. Kids copy what they see from their parents, and eventually, that can become their habit and part of their personality. Be kind to people around you, and show them they can find happiness in making someone else smile. You can show that by giving every day, or by participating in fundraising events or volunteering.
Beyond Things and Money
One of the most important things kids should learn about giving is that it is much more than giving money or stuff. Giving their time or lending a helping hand can often mean much more to the receiver than a couple of dollars. They can start from helping you around the house to being companions to senior citizens in nursing homes.
Understanding and Respect
Giving isn’t about feeling good about yourself – it is about helping others feel better. Talk to your kids about those who are less fortunate and explain to them that these people have been through things that can happen to everyone. This doesn’t make them better or worse than your kids. Sometimes, people just need to be treated as equals, with understanding and respect.
Let Them Experience Charity Firsthand
Choose a project where they can participate in charity giving. Older kids can put aside a part of their allowance and shop for kids clothing at discount prices to those who can’t afford them. Besides clothes, they can buy toys (new or pre-loved), books or shoes. Younger kids can put aside their old toys and give them to kids’ hospitals. Even preschoolers can help by distributing socks in a homeless shelter or bag lunches for a soup kitchen.
Teach Them to Manage Their Money
As soon as you start giving an allowance to the kids, they should be taught about handling it and spending it rationally. You can, for example, explain to them to divide the total sum in three parts: one for spending, one for saving and one for giving (as we mentioned in the previous paragraph). Also, it can be useful to give them a weekly task of writing down all of their expenses and making priority lists for the following week.
Use Auxiliary Means
There’s only so much you can pass on to your kids. They will also learn a lot of things from their environment, from books and movies. Use the chance to discuss about giving when watching a movie together. Sure, the scene in Toy Story when Emily leaves her toys in a donation box will make even a grown man cry, but if you take advantage of that moment, you can talk about how some kids will now be happier because of what she did, and how that, in fact, is a good thing. There are also a lot of books – from picture books for the little ones to novels for school kids about kindness and helping others.
Doing good for others helps our children be better, happier and more fulfilled people, and that is, after all, everything a parent could wish for their child.
Tracey Clayton is a full time mom of three girls. She feels she knows a thing or two about raising happy, healthy and confident kids, and offers helpful advice in her parenting articles on HighLifeStyle. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.” You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.