People ask me all the time about suggestions for raising philanthropic children. While my sons are far from the poster children for philanthropy, they certainly do a lot to help others. My oldest has spent more than 600 hours in Watts, serving inner city children. His younger brother throws touchdowns for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and reads to low-income children struggling in school. The youngest, at 12, is still finding his way but a few adventures to the LA Regional Food Bank, Childrens Hospital and Watts are giving him food for thought.
The reality is that there is no simple answer to this question and that raising charitable children is an ongoing process. I read an article recently that said role modeling philanthropy is simply not enough. The article referenced a new study from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University. The director, Debra Mesch, said “the research showed that talking to children about giving increased by 20 percent the likelihood that children would give.”
Here are a few tips to remember as we approach the season of giving:
Six Tips for Raising charitable children:
- Start early, as early as 4 or 5 years old. Giving becomes a habit.
- Talk to your children about what causes interest them and bring causes to their attention.
- Be intentional by involving your children in your own charity endeavors.
- Use online tools to research organizations to involve your children
- Be consistent. Make charity a part of your traditions, the holidays and birthdays.
- Emphasize the joy because giving feels great.
Benefits of raising charitable children:
- 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
While this topic is relevant for the holidays, it is important to remember that giving does not just happen once a year. Teaching the gifts you receive from giving should be a part of the year, not simply the season. Once your children feel how great it is to give, their lives will forever be altered in wonderful ways.
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