Teaching your child to be charitable
Did you know that being charitable not only benefits the receiver of the gift, but also the giver? An article from Greater Good compiled a list of 5 ways giving has been proven to be good for you, including:
- Giving makes us feel happy.
- Giving is good for our health.
- Giving promotes cooperation and social connection.
- Giving evokes gratitude.
- Giving is contagious.
But, as you may have experienced with your child or others, being charitable is not necessarily instinctual for kids. They want the toys they want and don’t always grasp why it is a good idea to share that toy with someone else. So, to give your children all the above benefits of being a charitable person, you are going to have to do some coaching.
Tips for teaching your child to be charitable
Giving is good, so help your child be more giving with these tips:
Teach them gratitude
Sometimes, children need to learn about being grateful for what they have before they can be open to sharing. Gratitude is learned from the many experiences in our lives. Talk with your kids about your appreciation for what you have and for what they have; and use the upcoming holiday season as an opportunity to really teach kids how to be grateful for what they have.
Volunteering is not just for adults. In fact, there are plenty of volunteering opportunities for children. Our advice is to choose to volunteer somewhere where your child gets to interact with those they are helping – like a soup kitchen or daycare center at a women’s shelter. Seeing is believing and through playing and talking with other kids (and a follow-up conversation with you in the car), your child will truly begin to understand that the world is big place with a lot of needs.
In order to teach your children good money and giving habits, their allowance should be separated into three parts – spend, save and give. Buy one of those coupon or receipt folders from the office supply store that has multiple slots. You decide what percentage of each month’s allowance goes into each section, but allow your children to put the money in the slots. It is very helpful to see how money adds up and disappears.
Choose charities wisely
Once your children have saved up enough money in the donation slot of their allowance folder, it is time to pick a charity. You should let your children choose where they want their money to go, but do some due diligence and pull together a list of 4-5 ideas together first including the church they attend. Many nonprofits send a gift, like a stuffed animal, in thanks for your donation, but getting a gift for being charitable doesn’t send the right message to your child. Instead, find some charities that offer your child an experience in return for a gift. One of our favorite examples of this is the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Kenya. When you give to the Trust you are “adopting” an orphan elephant and in return you get regular emails containing stories and photos about your elephant. It is a great way to show kids that giving is not just a one-time thing. It has long-term effects.
Teaching your children to be grateful and giving is one of the best things you can do for them. As Maya Angelou said, “When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”