We have all heard the expression that, “Charity begins at home,” a phrase that I wholeheartedly agree with. However, when people approach me about how to “teach” philanthropy and giving to their children…my response is that giving isn’t necessarily something you “teach” but rather a value that you adopt and model as a family.
In thinking about the best way to show your children how to care for others and to foster their love of helping others, reflect upon your own values and your families. If that is a goal for your family, then start by creating a culture of kindness and generosity where giving becomes something natural that your family does together.
Some other tips on raising charitable children…..
1. Start young, the earlier the better. For little ones (4 or 5), keep it simple, perhaps canned food for a local shelter or blankets for the homeless. Something that they understand.
2. Be age appropriate. Don’t overwhelm young children with world hunger but rather something relatable to them, perhaps something local in your community.
3. Engage your children in the process, especially the older they get. Find out what they care about? Perhaps they love animals and want to support a local shelter? Have them use their passion to make a difference. I have one son who struggled to learn to read, today he reads to children who struggle with the same thing he did.
4. Research together and suggests a few choices. With 1.9 million non-profits it can be overwhelming for all of us. Our family usually picks 3 or 4 ideas and then we vote on a holiday philanthropy project. We have adopted soldiers, fed homeless, adopted inner city families for Christmas. Ultimately it is the kids vote that decides.
5. Be intentional with your own giving. Teach by example. Discuss what causes you care about. Let your children hear and see your volunteer efforts or participate in them if possible.
6. Make giving habitual by being consistent. Whether its part of your allowance structure, a holiday tradition or something you do at birthdays, be consistent and establish giving as a tradition and habit. It’s no different from any sport, the more you participate the easier and more fun it becomes. Ultimately it becomes a part of who they are.
7. Emphasize the joy and the experience of giving rather than money. Philanthropy is about being a part of something bigger than yourself. Giving is so much more fun than receiving. Make it a joyful experience for your family and something you share in together. Perhaps, start with entering a 5k walk or charity run or volunteering together.
The benefits of philanthropic children: These from Julie Nesbit of Whittier Trust
- Opens children’s eyes to the fact that others are not as fortunate as they are
- Develops empathetic thinking
- Fosters an appreciation for what they have
- Enhances self-esteem
- Correlates to improved performance in school
Like everything we do with raising our children, it takes time , patience, consistency and love. Chances are you already do most of these things and don’t even realize it and your children do too. This holiday season, enjoy the process of giving in whatever way you decide to participate. You and your children will experience the real joy of the holidays….together.
Copyright © 2016 Charity Matters. This article may not be reproduced without explicit written permission; if you are not reading this in your newsreader, the site you are viewing is illegally infringing our copyright. We would be grateful if you contact us.