Every parent wants their children to grow up to be happy and prosperous adults. We also want our kids to be thankful for what they’ve been given, and to know how to feel and express gratitude. In this regard, it is important to impart a giving spirit in kids while they are young so that they’ll grow up to be generous with themselves and selfless to those around them. And this isn’t just for social benefits or for the sake of appearances! In fact, Psychology Today points out that learning how to be generous is linked with better mental health and greater happiness in kids.
With that in mind, here are some ways to teach your kids how to give.
1. Be the example
Children learn by observing their surroundings and mimicking what they see. So, one of the best ways to teach giving is to lead by example and show them how you give to others. Your children are always watching you, so if someone asks for help and you decide to help them, they’ll learn that this is an example of behavior they should follow. Similarly, if they see you being generous in small ways –– sharing food with a neighbor or friend in need, or giving a thoughtful gift on a special occasion –– they’ll see the value in giving, rather than just receiving.
2. Random acts of kindness with kids
It’s important to teach kids that everyone experiences a problem every now and then, and that if they see someone struggling, offering to help can be kind . This is effectively empathy in action, and it’s actually quite teachable! An article at SymptomFind about teaching empathy mentions specifically that performing random acts of kindness can help kids learn to think about other people’s feelings and what they can do to help. Furthermore, discussing the random acts afterwards can reinforce kids’ understanding of and even enthusiasm for kindness and giving. You can start with something as small as holding the door for a stranger who has their hands full, and explain the action to your child afterward.
3. Make a donation for a cause
You can also teach your children that there are many people with less access to resources, and that by donating time or money, you are helping those people –– even if you can’t actually see or interact with them. The cause could be anything from a nearby food bank to an orphanage across the world. Whatever the case, when you engage children in these good deeds, it further helps them understand that they can do something to help ease other people’s problems, thus strengthening the joy of giving. For example, donating to Play for Peace will bring laughter, compassion and peace to children and communities in conflict around the world
4. Offer to do something
Giving doesn’t have to take the physical shape of money, food, or donated goods. It can also mean simply offering to do something to support someone else. A post on giving back at Yahoo! notes that it is actually natural for kids to want to help others. So when you help them find easy ways to do so, you’re feeding a positive natural instinct. And again, you can start with something small. Explain how a little chore around the house helps you and your partner by taking something off your plate. Framing it this way, as opposed to just something the child is required to do, can turn it into another lesson in generosity.
5. Play for Peace
Finally, there's teaching kids to become more generous through experiencing cooperative play! Programs that bring children together to play constructively encourage Social & Emotional Learning, or SEL. Play for Peace is one program that facilitates this type of learning, alongside a focus on developing important life skills like social awareness and establishing healthy relationships. Gaining a social understanding and learning how to make responsible decisions through Play for Peace or a similar community social activity will make kids more likely to be empathetic and giving toward their own peers.
Teaching kids how to give at a young age can help train them to become kind and generous adults. Try some of these simple tips, and you may find that your kids not only come to understand giving, but gain enthusiasm for it.
Article written by Roane Justine
Exclusively for Play for Peace