The concept of giving to others is not one that everyone naturally understands. That’s why it’s so important to acclimate your kids to this idea from a very early age. There are a few ways for you to start to help your kids develop a feeling of responsibility toward others that leads to giving to charity and volunteering. Just remember to keep it at a developmentally appropriate level.
Teach Them to Care About Others
Being involved in charity and volunteering as a family requires empathy, and it’s never too early to teach this virtue. It may be difficult for young children to understand the idea of empathy, but they can get a start by having you talk to them about the feelings of others.
As young children, it may not occur to them that the people around them also have feelings, fears, wishes, etc. To get them to understand this, you can ask them about how those around them are feeling and talking about how you all can help them. Taking about how someone could be sad because they are going without something and how they can help them feel better by finding that missing item for them, can teach this concept in a direct way.
Model the Behavior
If the idea of charity or other giving is brought to a child suddenly, they may not understand why they should give or even have some fear about the practice. It’s important for you to model the behavior. If they see you put money into charity buckets and boxes, they will start to have an idea about how to help people through charity.
Growing up with this example being set for them often makes this a simpler idea that will forever be a part of their lives. Another idea is to let them see you volunteering for a cause. You may be able to let them come with you, or you may talk about your volunteering before and after you do it so that it becomes a natural idea to them.
As we grow up, we tend to see our circumstances as normal. Many kids have never thought much about what they have or how their lifestyle is a good one – it’s simply all they know. Taking to your children about the wonderful things they have in their lives is a good way to get them started with gratitude.
This can be demonstrated with something as simple as having a healthy meal to eat at home, running water, or having air conditioning. Tell them how grateful you are for these things and how some people in the world don’t have them. As a child starts to feel gratitude for her life, she will start to see how important it is to help others who have less.
Find Ways of Age-Appropriate Giving
Whether it’s giving of time or material goods, there are ways for kids to do their own giving. They can help choose which foods to donate to a food bank, or pick out pet toys and foods to give to a local animal shelter. There are often volunteer positions at schools for kids to give such as helping to lead a new student around the school. You might even suggest that they drop a few coins from their allowance into a donation bucket now and again and talk through the cause they are helping.
Encouraging your child to get involved with charitable giving and volunteering at a young age benefits them just as much as it does to those they are helping. Having a good sense of gratitude and empathy will make their entire life richer and more fulfilled.