Kids today have more advantages than previous generations. Some children receive more gifts for a birthday or holiday than others receive in their entire lives.
Because of this abundance, it’s important for kids to learn how to give back and help those who are less fortunate. Even the youngest children can learn how to practice philanthropy and give generously, if they are guided by the adults in their lives.
If you aren’t sure how to teach children to give back, try one of these strategies that will not only benefit those who are struggling, but also plant the seeds of philanthropy in young minds.
Discuss Issues With Kids
Some parents shy away from talking with their kids about issues like the homeless, the environment or poverty for a variety of reasons. However, talking about issues and helping kids understand the world often ignites a passion to help. While you may not want to go into detail with very young children, look for opportunities to teach them about areas they can help. Discuss homelessness when you see someone on the street, for example, and ask your child for ideas of ways to help.
Help Your Kids Make Donations
Whether it’s clothing, toys, books or other household items, nearly everyone has something they can donate. Enlist the kids’ help in doing an annual clean-out, and ask them to fill a box with items to give to those in need. Let them see you giving as well; make it a family affair to drop off donations at a local organization.
Kids learn by watching their parents, and when they see you giving your time and energy to help, they will want to do the same. Look for opportunities that will involve the whole family. Even young children can help with a park cleanup, for example, while older kids can sort food at a food bank or help at the soup kitchen. By volunteering as a family, you strengthen your bonds as well as help others.
Make a Monetary Plan
If your kids have an allowance, or receive money for gifts or other occasions, ask them to designate an amount for giving. Divide the sum into three containers: for spending, saving and giving. Let your child determine a cause or organization to donate her money to — it might be the local animal shelter, a food bank, or even a national cause, like cancer research. Offer to match her donations.
Practice What You Preach
Again, kids learn by example, so make philanthropy a regular part of your life. Talk to your kids about the organizations you support and why. Make small gestures each day — helping someone with the groceries or bringing flowers to a sick neighbor. All of those things add up, and your kids will see your commitment and emulate your example.
Teaching kids to give back and care about others is one of the most important parts of being a parent. Taking that time helps make the world a better place for the future.
Image from Flickr’s Creative Commons
About the Author: Mother of four – and former banker — Erica Brown writes about parenting, finance and volunteering for several blogs. A staunch advocate for corporate philanthropy, she points to executives like John Studzinski as role models.