How do you instill a generous spirit in young children so they continually grow in compassion and understanding?
“There never was any heart truly great and generous, that was not also tender and compassionate.” Robert Frost
Teaching kids to give of themselves to help others is one of life’s most valuable lessons, and one that takes time and repetition. There are many ways to teach volunteerism and philanthropy, and it starts in very simple ways. Consistency and creativity help kids of various ages, abilities and learning styles internalize the many ways they can make a difference in the world.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.” Edward Everett Hale
As the holidays approach and opportunities abound to give of our time, talents, resources, skills, and money, it’s important to take the time to involve kids, for the true value of doing these things is to involve others and raise another generation who wants to help.
Questions to ask that will help you and young people get the most out of holiday “giving”
- Is giving money the only way to help with this, or is there a way to be more involved, if only in a small way?
- When donating money, is there a way for the children to be involved such as hand delivering?
- When supporting a project or organization somewhere, is a tour possible? Are there people or animals benefiting with whom the children can interact, such as a senior center , nursing home or animal shelter?
- Is there part of the fundraiser that kids can help with such as making signs or decorating collection boxes?
- Is there an easier fundraiser that kids can do more self-sufficiently, or better yet can the kids decide how to raise money and what they’d like to do? Can they take the lead?
- Is there an activity involved such as packaging food at Food for Kidz (all ages welcome), packing shoe boxes for Operation Shoe box, or other “hands on” ways to help?
- Have you made sure activities are as much of a family event as possible? Kids have a hard time understanding why they are going through their clothes, toys or books to donate, if parents aren’t doing the same.
- Are you prepared to answer questions? Do you know where money goes when kids throw it in the big red kettle outside the shopping mall? Be prepared to explain what the money is used for and how it helps people.
- Is there a new, meaningful, and memorable tradition you can start with your family? Maybe something your kids will look forward to each year and anticipate.
- Are there ways to keep the spirit of giving alive long after the holidays are over? Can you make a plan to involve kids all year round in different ways so they learn that compassion isn’t limited to the holidays, and neither is the need?
What would you add to this list? In what ways do you involve your children in serving others?