When you teach your children the spirit of giving while they’re young, you give them the necessary skills to make the world a better place when they grow up. Every parent wants their child to grow into a compassionate and helpful adults. In the end, they’ll inherit the world and could use help and compassion.
Still, it can be challenging to encourage your kids to be charitable because giving doesn’t always provide immediate results. Here are some ways to teach your children the spirit of giving.
Take them to volunteer.
This idea isn’t new or fresh. Most times, the spirit of giving is taught by having your kids volunteer to serve food at a local shelter or pack bags at your local food pantry. However, consider this: are you choosing charities you want to help? If your kids like serving there, it might be worth assessing to ensure their service acts don’t have an underlying personal gain.
For example, you may volunteer at a food pantry every year, bringing your excited children in tow to help. However, when you dig deeper into their motivations, you find out they’ve been given free rein on donated candy. The candy was their reward and became their motivation, not the service itself, but the fact that they’d be given sugar and cavities. On the other hand, you may suggest serving outside in frigid temperatures, which your kids declined.
When you donate time with your children to teach them to serve, it’s an opportunity to teach them that sacrifice comes with service. Service isn’t always fun, personally rewarding tangibly, and not glamorous. It would be best if you help them see the essence of service in the face of those in need. Serving is an opportunity for them to realize their sacrifice is someone else’s gain.
Lead by example.
We all know that children are like sponges, absorbing everything around them. However, you can use this knowledge to your advantage. Parents are typically the first people children copy their behaviors from. Therefore, you can set a good example by being a giving person yourself. The more a child is accustomed to the idea that giving is a good thing their parents do, the more it produces the desire within them also to give back what they can. When collecting items to donate or volunteering your time, ensure that your kids understand what they’re doing and why it’s important. They may not understand immediately, but it will stay in their minds.
Allow them to give back.
Sometimes, the issue with children not giving back isn’t because they don’t want to but because they never get the chance. Ask them about what they want to donate or give away to someone who has less than they do. Their answer may surprise you. Children’s opinions aren’t usually taken seriously, so by doing this, you show them that their opinion is meaningful and desired.
Promote kindness toward strangers.
This idea doesn’t apply to all strangers, but when you’re with them and can help, show your kids that doing something nice for a stranger can feel good for you too. Perhaps you give up your seat on the bus for someone in need or buy food for a homeless person sitting outside the store. Small things like this show your children that other people outside of themselves also matter. Ensure that you talk through their feelings about their actions and how it made them feel so you can answer their questions about why it’s important.
Donate their old toys, clothes, and games.
Unfortunately, your children grow up faster than you’d like. On the plus side, this creates the opportunity to involve them in giving back to the less fortunate. Getting their participation in the decision-making process about what to donate can help relieve any worries they have about giving up their old things. It also allows them to feel like they’re making the decisions, giving them more self-sufficiency and agency. They might not like the idea at first, but describing how their old things will help others that are less fortunate can show them the rewards of giving back.
Help your neighbors.
Whether it’s bringing extra supplies they’re running low on or shoveling their driveway, giving back can be as simple as helping your neighbors. Everyone wants a good relationship with their neighbors, especially if you have children. Get involved and show how easy it is to promote a close community. Generosity is typically reciprocated, making everyone happier.
Education is essential.
Sometimes, forcing acts of sacrifice or service can backfire. Some children don’t learn by being required or coerced to give. Instead, parents should teach through a form of education, maybe paired with the act of sacrifice or service. Take your kids through some studies about what it means to sacrifice. For little kids, numerous shows and books show what it means to give at the cost of others.
These books and shows can help communicate the idea of giving in a way that forcing them might not. Challenge your teens to find their materials and share them with you. They can also find a film that shows giving or a book. They could even look for real-world examples that they can show you.
Giving usually requires sacrifice, but not all the time. Sometimes, God blesses us with resources to give liberally. If that’s your situation, consider yourself blessed. It costs energy, time, finances, patience and much more to give. Ultimately, your example sets the stage for your children to learn how to share. If your heart and attitude aren’t in the right place, then your kids won’t have much hope of understanding a giving, cheerful spirit.
However, if you approach giving with the same spirit that Christ did, it’s a valuable lesson that your children will carry on long after you’re gone. It will carry on for generations and set the stage for humanity, kindness, and love. Giving may not always be easy, but it’s the right thing to do.