Of all the things that parents try to teach their children, some of the most important traits are also the most difficult to instill. Characteristics like empathy and understanding can be complicated for a young child to grasp. One trait that we like to focus on is generosity, especially to those in need. If you have a child that doesn’t like to share or is in the “mine” phase with all of their toys, it can seem like a tall task to instill generosity within them. However, we’ve compiled a list of ways to inspire the spirit of giving in your children so that you can all feel good about giving back while your children learn valuable life skills.
Lead by Example
We’ve all heard the phrase that kids are like sponges – they absorb everything going on around them. You can use this to your advantage. Children’s parents are usually the first people that they begin copying behaviors from. As such, you can set a good example by being giving yourself. The more a child is normalized to the idea that giving is a good thing that their parents often do, the more it creates the desire within them to also give back what they can. When you are gathering things to donate or volunteering your time, make sure your child understands what you are doing and why you believe it’s important. They may not get it right away, but it will stick in their mind.
Open Them Up for Opportunities
Sometimes, the problem with children not giving as much as we like is not because they don’t want to, but because they are never given the chance. Ask them about what they would like to give away or donate to someone who doesn’t have as much as they do. You might be surprised at their answer. The opinions of children are not often taken into consideration, so by doing this you show them that their input is desired and meaningful.
Encourage Kindness Towards Strangers
This obviously does not apply to all strangers, but when you are there with them and can help them along, show them that doing something nice for a stranger can feel good for you too. Maybe give up your seat on the bus for someone who needs it more or buy some food for the homeless person outside the store. Doing things like this shows your child that there are other people outside of themselves that also matter. Make sure you talk through their feelings about what you did and how it made them feel so you can answer any questions they might have about why it was important.
“Adopt” a Child or Family
One common way that you can give back while teaching your child valuable lessons is to give back to a specific person or family in an area that is less fortunate than yours. Plenty of organizations do this, and it’s a fantastic way to get your whole family involved in the giving back process. You can all talk about what you would like to make or give them, especially around times like the holidays. This gives your child a specific person that they can say they have helped, making it feel more real to them and less obscure as to how they are actually helping.
Donate Their Old Toys, Clothes, and Games
It’s a fact of life that children grow up faster than we would like. This does, however, create the opportunity to involve them in giving back to their community. Getting them involved in the decision-making process about what to donate can help alleviate any worries they might have about giving up their old stuff. It also lets them feel like they are making important decisions about how to help, giving them more agency and self-sufficiency. They may not enjoy the idea at first, but explaining how their old items will go on to help others that don’t have the same things can show them how rewarding giving back can be.
Take Them Volunteering
There’s nothing like getting close and personal with the people you are trying to help to really make you feel like you’re making a difference. It’s no different with children either. Taking them to a shelter or a nursing home is the perfect way for them to see how their actions actually make an impact. Again, it’s all about normalizing the act of giving back, showing them that it is something that good people simply do. Seeing the faces of the people that you are helping makes the experience all the more impactful, so don’t be afraid to take your children with you when you volunteer.
Help Out Your Neighbors
Whether it’s shoveling their driveway or just bringing them extra supplies they might be running low on, giving back can be something as simple as helping out your neighbors. Having a good relationship with your neighbors is something that everyone wants, especially if you have children. Get them involved and show them how easy it is to foster a close community. Show them how generosity is often reciprocated and how that makes everyone happier.
Turn Giving Back Into an Activity
If you really want to engage a child in something, one of the easiest ways to do so is by making it fun. Giving back should be fun for its own sake, but it’s not always so simple when it comes to children. Something like crafting donations to give to a homeless shelter or making a game out of who can put the most money in the donation jar will help motivate your child to take initiative when it comes to giving back.
GreenDrop has collected these ways to inspire the giving spirit in your children because we believe giving back is an essential part of being alive. We have numerous locations that are ready to take your donations of clothes, toys, games, furniture, and more and turn them into usable funds for our donation partners. You can schedule a donation pick up today and get both yourself and your entire family into the spirit of giving. Remember that it all starts with you, and that you have the power to impact others, whether they be your children, or someone else who needs your help.