If you have young children and you want them to grow into generous and happy adults, then giving with them when they are young is incredibly powerful.
It can create a strong foundation that takes them into and through adulthood.
However, it’s not always easy to give with young children. These tips might help!
7 tips for giving with younger children
Model Generous Behavior
Your children are watching you all of the time and learning their important life lessons from what you do and what you say. Make it a point to model and talk about generous behavior.
For example, take time to point out things you’re grateful for. Talk about where you donate to and why. Or plan activities for your own special days (your anniversary, your birthday) that involve giving to others.
Find Concrete Ways to Give
Money is an abstract concept for young children, and they may better understand and enjoy giving something they can touch.
For example, together you can collect books for a nearby school or bring cookies to your local senior center. A pile of books may mean more to your young child than a large check. A smile on the face of senior citizen may mean more than a thank you letter from a charity.
Group activities can help kids get excited about doing something for others without getting too emotionally attached to those things they’ll be giving.
For example, a bunch of kids getting together to assemble backpacks filled with school supplies for low income children can be a fun and rewarding experience for kids of all ages– and probably most adults, too.
Keep it small
Avoid overwhelming them with big problems with big solutions or too many choices. The solutions to global warming are big, complex, and even controversial. Help your children focus in on one part of the problem they can help with. For example, planting trees is simple and concrete. It’s a task they can take on.
You’ll get stacks of charity catalogs and requests before Christmas, sift through them first. Choose a couple to share with your children and involve them in deciding which of these two or three charities the family should donate to.
Young children are unpredictable. A child may have a lot of associations with a particular toy, and they may be unwilling to give it away right now. They may even change their mind about being willing to give that toy away after they said they would.
It doesn’t mean your child is selfish. They may need more time and distance from that toy or to think about what that toy could mean to someone else. You’ll have lots of opportunities to teach them about giving, so don’t worry about getting it right every time.
A generous child and a generous adult happen because giving becomes a lifestyle. Look for many different opportunities to express gratitude and different ways to give. The family can volunteer together or host an open house for a local charity or hand out flyers. The opportunities and ways to give are endless.
Grow With Them
As your child reaches different levels of development, they will be ready for different lessons about generosity. For example, when they start getting an allowance, it may be time to start the “Spend some, save some, give some” lesson of allowance allocation.
When they’re ready, they can research charities or suggest areas of interest for the family’s philanthropy. Challenge your children and grow with them as their skills and interest in giving grows.
Pay attention to how your child likes to give. Some children will gravitate more naturally to hands on volunteer work with animals or seniors, while others may like to help build something, or others may like to give money. Structure opportunities that allow your children to participate in ways that they enjoy.
Did I miss something? How do you give with your children?
For more help on powerful and rewarding giving, request the “Champagne Giving on a Beer Budget Guide” and the bi-monthly Giving Advice Newsletter.