Giving back and loving others doesn’t have to be complicated. Though sometimes with words like philanthropy and charity it can sound complicated and reserved for those with wealth. Philanthropy may be a big word for your children to get their heads around, but the actions of compassion, empathy, and loving others can be taught and modeled. Children learn by example. So it’s a good idea to show generosity and humanity throughout all you do in and outside of your home. Serving together with your kids can leave a powerful impression on them.
The life lesson of giving back is an important one to learn early in life. And it will help your children grow up to be kind, empathetic individuals with good hearts and souls that will reach out to those in need. There are many ways you can teach your children about generosity and loving others through volunteering, charity work, donations, recycling, letting go of things they no longer need, and learning to share.
Talk About Current Affairs In The World
From an early age, children sense if the people around them are upset or unhappy. But being kids, they may not realize just how big the world is and how much sadness and devastation occurs outside of their comfort zone or time zone. Sometimes adults even struggle with this. We see tragedy happen around the world, but it feels so removed from our personal world that it may not evoke much more than mere pity.
You know your kids the best so you can judge what age to start teaching them about current affairs. In addition to teaching empathy, current affairs help with other skills such as geography and awareness of the world at large. Talk with your kids about natural disasters that happen in the world and the impact they can have on the families living through them. When the best time arises, teach them about war and the cataclysmic effects it has on those living through it. Obviously, limit exactly what they see and hear to what is age appropriate, but give them a solid understanding of current affairs.
Have a look here at Education World for some ideas on what to talk about and when. As you talk and pray about different current events, don’t just settle for mere pity. Maybe there are ways you can donate toward relief funds, or volunteer at a center that helps refugees adjust in America, or maybe you could travel within the country to help clean up towns devastated by floods, tornados, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
Let your children see how small acts of goodwill are just as important as the big ones. If it’s their first time going through clothes to donate, let them go through your wardrobe with you first. Put on a mini fashion show from your wardrobe and let them pick four or five things each that they don’t think you should wear anymore! 😉 Explain that these clothes will then be donated to a charity such as The Salvation Army or Goodwill.
Remind them that others who don’t have as much can benefit from the things we no longer need. When they comprehend what you are saying, the next step is to go through their wardrobe with them. Get them to go through the same process of choosing four or five items of clothing they no longer need and are prepared to give away to those who have less. It is important to get them involved in this activity to teach them the value of the lesson. Let them come with you to your chosen charity shop so that they can hand over their clothes too.
You may also check around town to see if any local churches run clothing closets or clothing drives where they give items away to the public or those in need for free. Also, if you have baby clothes that you are not planning on reusing or reselling, see if there are any local crisis pregnancy clinics. Many will take clothing donations for new moms.
Selling Old DVD’s And Books
Also explain to your children that not every family, even in their own country, is lucky enough to be able to afford shiny new things. Teach them that the rewards of donating are selfless. Still, sometimes certain things can be sold, and in return, you can receive a little money back to use for something else you need. Explain that these things go on sale at lower prices to families that may need to buy second-hand gifts as they may not have much money. Sites such as http://buybackexpress.com/all-testimonial/ will buy back DVD’s, books, CD’s and computer games in bulk in return for money.
Although money is not an incentive for charity, getting children into the habit of purging what they no longer use is a good start to teaching them how not to hold on to superficial things. You can also take this a step further by having your children donate all or part of the money they receive back to a charity or to your church.
It’s also a good way to explain to them how not everyone can afford to buy brand new things. If your family is like mine, that may even include your family! We rarely buy new clothes or furniture. And we are grateful that there are places where we can buy quality used items.
Show your children the value and happiness that can come from volunteering in your own community. Go with them to neighbors’ houses and ask if anyone needs help with their grocery shopping or perhaps raking their leaves. We now live in a neighborhood with a couple elderly people who do need help with their yard or with shopping for groceries. Our sweet neighbor lady has had a bad string of car problems, so helping her get groceries has been as easy as picking her up the staples she requests or letting her ride along with us to Aldi’s once a week. Plus, reaching out has helped us get to know our neighbors and allowed new relationships to blossom.
You can also drop food off at homeless shelters or make up care packages for troops in service. Many churches or local food banks run food pantries and frequently need volunteers and donations.
Helping others will teach your children gratitude. Teaching your children these skills takes time and patience, but it is worth the effort to give your kids a perspective of empathy and compassion. There are some really cute ideas for serving together with your kids here: Kid World Citizen.
Birthday Party Presents
Throwing a birthday party for your child soon? It’s a nice idea to let guests know that your child would prefer a small donation to a charity, rather than another present. If your child agrees of course! If you force it, your child may associate charity with a horrible birthday memory. Let your child choose a favorite charity from a list you have made up. This could be anything from animal charities to the Make A Wish Foundation. Choose ones they have an interest in. And then get them to help you design the birthday invitation explaining why they would be grateful for donations.
As they see how much money they have raised for their chosen charity, they will take pride in their achievement and learn kindness along the way. They may want to raise more money for the charity throughout the year. Encourage them to do so by sponsored walks or runs, or even by selling homemade lemonade.
Encourage Your Children To Write Thank You Notes
In this day and age, it’s so easy to say thanks by a text message or even say it on behalf of your children. But teaching them to take the time and effort to write thank you notes will enable them to think about the process of thanking someone. Buy some funky paper and stickers and let your children write personal thank you notes with thought. They can be sent when they receive presents, to a babysitter, or to a teacher at the end of a term. Constantly saying thanks can lose its meaning with children. But taking the time to sit down and write out why they are grateful is a good way to teach them the importance of appreciation.
Appreciation At Home
Through no fault of their own, children can forget to value the effort that goes into looking after them and keeping them safe. This is something that is often taken for granted with children. Assign them a few chores throughout the house so they can help do their part and learn valuable skills. You could get them to help you wipe down the countertops, fold the laundry, or pull weeds. They may be little things, but they will teach children to appreciate all that goes into making a home run smoothly. They will also learn that it takes a bit of effort to run a house and that helping others when they are tired is an act of kindness at home.
Sponsoring A Child
We have loved sponsoring Axel through Compassion International. We also save up our loose change and turn it in for cash a couple times a year to send him an extra surprise at Christmas and on his birthday. There are many organizations that let you sponsor a child in another country less fortunate than your own. Take the time to explain to your children how other kids may not have the luxuries we do, such as TV, a car, or even in some cases clean water. Explain how donating a set amount of money each month can help make a huge impact in the life of another child.
If your children are given spending money, consider creating a jar where they can choose to put some of their allowance in each month. This can go towards the sponsorship. Let them know the money will go towards providing less fortunate children with clean water, an education, medical care, and better housing. Here is a good organization to look into: Save the Children. Save the Children sponsors children both around the world and underprivileged children here in America.
The Bottom Line
Teach your children to give selflessly throughout the year. This is a wonderful way to let them know that charity is not just there in case of emergencies. It will give them a wider understanding of how difficult and unfair this world can be and how they can help do their bit every month. Children that know from an early age that not all life experiences are the same are more likely to be compassionate toward others and appreciative of what they have. They are also less likely to be swept away with consumerism and greed. Nurturing generosity over the lifetime of your child is one of the greatest legacies you can leave. As both you and your child serve together with the overflowing of God’s love, it can create a beautiful blossoming of blessings in the lives of many.