As a parent, you want nothing more than to raise kind and well-rounded children. You want your kids to care for others, to have a strong sense of community, and to lead a generous life. To that end, it’s essential that you teach your kids how to be their more benevolent selves in all walks of life. Here are six easy ways you can encourage your kids to be more generous in everyday life.
1. Lead by Example
If you want your children to conduct themselves in a certain way, the best way to encourage them is to model that behavior for them. Kids are far more likely to emulate things they’ve seen performed in front of them than they are to do what they’re told.
Make sure they see you acting generously and kindly to those in need. It could be offering some money to a homeless person, bringing a meal to a sick or grieving neighbor, or even donating old clothes to your local charity.
In the example of donating clothing, modeling this behavior is incredibly easy. With your child, go through your closets and figure out which clothes you don’t want or need anymore. Put them in a bag and head to your local charitable organization. There are charities that accept clothing donations all over the country, such as Goodwill. If you’re based in Miami, you can explore your selection of Miami-based Goodwill shops. If you live in Houston, have a look at Goodwill drop off locations in Houston.
2. Teach the Concept of Sharing
Sharing is one of the pillars of generosity – and it’s one of the things you can teach your children early on in life. If you have young children, start by explaining what sharing is and why it’s important. Give them opportunities to then practice sharing. For example, have them share their toys with their siblings or friends.
You should also praise acts of sharing to encourage your kids to do it. For instance, let’s say a friend lends you their car for the day so you can run errands while your car is in the shop. Mention to your child what a kind act of sharing that is and how appreciative you are to your friend for doing that. They will pick up on the fact that sharing is something worthy of positive reinforcement and will be more likely to engage in these selfless acts themselves. This trick also works no matter what age your child is.
3. Talk About the Positive Feelings Associated with Giving
You know that warm feeling you get when you give someone a gift or make a donation to a cause you’re passionate about? That feeling of pride and fulfillment? Be sure to mention those exact sentiments to your children to foster their generosity.
According to researcher Stephen G. Post of Stony Brook University, philanthropy boosts happiness chemicals in our brains, such as oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. These chemicals can help us feel tranquil, serene, and at peace. Oftentimes, he shares, you’ll notice that someone who is giving in an altruistic fashion will light up as they do so. This phenomenon was dubbed the “giver’s glow”.
After demonstrating a selfless act to your children – such as donating to a charity or volunteering in your local area – describe how it made you feel. Explain the pride and joy that you experienced as a direct result of that selfless act. Doing so will make your kids want to experience those feelings for themselves, making them more likely to behave generously.
4. Read Them Books About Generosity and Giving
There are plenty of ways to make learning about generosity fun for your children. One of the best tools at your disposal is books. Messages found within stories and colorful images often resonate with kids much better than just talking to them. Plus, it’s a lot more fun and engaging!
It’s Mine! by Leo Lionni is a great example of a children’s book about giving that doesn’t go over the top in preaching its message. In this story, three frogs argue back and forth with the same recurring line: “It’s mine!” That is until a rough storm teaches them the importance of sharing, especially in adverse circumstances.
What Is Given From the Heart by Patricia C. McKissak and illustrated by April Harrison is another awesome pick. In this tale, young James Otis and his mother are going through a rough time. But his mother still finds the generosity to hand make an apron for a neighboring family that has lost all their belongings in a fire. In the end, James learns that he has more to give others than he ever realized.
You can find a full list of amazing children’s books about giving here.
5. Enroll in Volunteering Activities Together
This tip is another way in which you can lead by example and model generosity for your kids. Show your children the benefits of benevolence by volunteering together. Volunteering has a number of incredible rewards. It helps teach children the concepts of compassion, empathy, gratitude, and a sense of community responsibility.
Plus, there are countless ways you can volunteer with your kids. You can gather some food from your cupboards and take it to a local food pantry. You can participate in a 5km or 10km walk to raise money for cancer. You can pick up litter in the park, deliver meals to homebound people, visit residents of a nursing home
All of these are excellent ways to introduce volunteerism to your children. Not only will it show them how great it is to be generous, but it’s also a fun and enriching thing for you to do as a family.
Teaching your children how to be more generous as they grow up is one of those things your kids are sure to remember and thank you for. By guiding them on their journey to generosity, you’re helping them become more valuable members of society. You’re reminding them that it’s part of the human experience to support and care for others – and that there can be real beauty and fulfillment in doing exactly that.
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