It is understandable and completely normal for young kids to think of their own needs first. That is why guidance and helpful lessons from Mom and Dad are crucial to steer them towards becoming more kind, sensitive, and empathetic as they grow up. The holidays are a great time to be good examples of generosity as we share gifts with our loved ones and to those who need our help the most. The goal, however, is to teach your kids that generosity is not confined to just one day every year. It is an attitude that must be present and demonstrated all-year round! Here are a couple of practical ways you can instill the virtue of generosity in your kids.
Your kids will naturally emulate you, so it’s important to set a good example. Start talking to them about the joy of sharing their belongings with their siblings or playmates. Talk to them about your own feelings whenever you share your resources or something that you like with others. Apart from talking about generosity, teach by example. Model generous acts in front of your kids such as offering to run errands for their grandparents and giving out meals to the less fortunate.
Whenever you’re preparing care packages or donations, let your kids participate. Have them select and pack goods to donate with you, so they get hands-on experience with charity. Explain to them who the donations are going to, why they are being given aid, and why it is important to help out when you are able. For the holidays, let them pick some of the gifts you’ll be giving to your relatives. This is a good start to practice giving gifts and not just receiving them.
Show acts of kindness towards your kids to fill their lives with love and joy. Spend quality time with them on weekdays and weekends, cook their favorite meals, and do activities together which you know they enjoy. The happier they feel, the more love and joy they have to give back.
Whenever you see your child do a good deed, compliment them for their actions. Praise their efforts because a bit of positive recognition when given at the right time can encourage them to continue doing generous acts. Do be cautious and don’t force generosity on them because this may also backfire. Be patient with your kids as they grow and learn.
Whenever they do something hurtful like take a toy away from their sibling, ask them “How do you think your brother/sister felt when you took their toy?” You can also use “I statements” like “I feel happier when you share your things with your friends.” Sharing feelings and emotions is not something to be feared, rather, it can be a strength when mastered.
Love, patience, and encouragement are what kids need in order to learn about generosity, Moms and Dads. Being an example, giving as a family, praising good deeds and efforts will go a long way.
1. Deb Cohen, Giving: The Best Gift of All, The Center for Parenting Education
2. Rachel Boyer, Top 5 Ways to Raise A Generous Child at Any Age, World Vision, September 2018
3. Tips for Raising Generous Children, Child Mind Institute