I had the pleasure recently of receiving some tips from Alison Smith, co-founder of ECHOage.com, about ways to help children become more charitable. This is something that I’ve been working toward with my little ones since they entered the world.
I started by setting an example. I give of my time, I donate to charities, I give at church and I try to verbally express to my children the message of charity. But it’s tough. I do what I can at home to instill these values in my children, but I’m a working mom and my children spend most of their time in daycare and school. The adults in charge of these environments do their best to instill values in the children in their care as well, but they may not be doing it the way that I am and so, the message is inconsistent.
What I felt I needed was a better understanding of what children believe about the concept of charity. Alison’s article below was very helpful:
Children become more charitable when they believe that their actions have impact. A few small, yet tangible ideas, put into action early on in life, can set the stage for a more charitably spirited and rewarding future.
1. Pass it On
Nothing is better than receiving a completely unexpected, delightful, surprise. Next time when you are at your favorite coffee shop with your kids, let the cashier know that you would like to buy the person behind you a cup of coffee or a muffin. No need to let them know. The cashier can let the person know that it was a gift from the person who just left. Your child will see how nice it feels to put a smile on an absolute stranger’s face.
2. Cookie Delivery
At some point in time, we all have friends who could use a hug or need a little lift. Why not bake cookies with your kids, have them draw a “happy” card and deliver an unexpected package to a friend’s doorstep. This act of kindness will allow you to have the compassion conversation. Being aware that grownups have feelings too helps kids to think outside of themselves and be more aware of the world around them.
3. Plant Seeds and Give Them Life
What could be better than watching a little garden grow (especially in the dead of winter?) Give your little ones a pot, some earth and seeds to water and nurture. Seeing the progress take shape before their very eyes shows kids that when they are patient and nurturing, beautiful things occur.
4. Allowance is for Sharing
One of my personal all time favorites is encouraging kids to give a small portion of their allowance away. Setting aside a small amount each week can quickly turn into to a sizable amount after a few short months. Together you and your child can discuss where that money can go. It begins the dialogue of giving and sets your child on an early path that places giving as a party in their everyday life.
By: Alison Smith, Co-Founder of ECHOage.com.