As parents and teachers, we strive for our children to be generous and compassionate people. Shucks, we strive to be that way ourselves! Our hectic schedules and financial burdens can make it a challenge to give to those in need on a regular basis. For children, just being generous can be challenging. Developmentally, it is often difficult for kids to consider the desires and feelings of other people, especially when being asked to give something up. But this does not mean we are doomed in teaching kids how to be caring and generous individuals. In fact, guiding children through the giving process helps them to develop these skills naturally. And teaching a child to give promotes social awareness, empathy, compassion and caring.
Why is giving important?
- Connection to community: In the process of teaching a child to give, you can investigate the needs of your community together. Are shelters in need of supplies? Do parks desperately need some litter pick-up? Could your neighbor who lives alone use a friendly visit? This connection to community promotes in kids a healthy social awareness of the world that exists around them.
- Giving makes us thankful: While being generous can greatly benefit our community, it can also help us to appreciate the privileges we have—like a warm house; clean clothes; running water; and having supportive and caring teachers, parents, and caregivers.
- Encourage empathy: The more kids can put themselves in other people’s shoes and understand others’ experiences, the more generous and compassionate they will be.
What can we do?
- Model: If you have been following our KITS Blog for a while, we sound like a broken record here, but we are big believers in modeling as one of the greatest teaching tools! If you want your kiddo to be generous, BE generous! Let them see you call and check on a friend, have them help you prep a meal for new parents, or let them help buy a cup of coffee for the next person in line.
- Brainstorm: Come up with fun and creative ways to give together!
- Read Together: Have we mentioned how much we love books around here? Check out this great list of books from A Mighty Girl website about making an impact and teaching children about charity and community service.
Giving Outside the Box
Being generous can look different in different situations. This is particularly important to keep in mind for families and kiddos who are in need of extra support themselves. Giving doesn’t have to cost a lot (or any!) money. Thinking of creative ways to give can be an empowering way for kids to recognize their own value, and to notice all the amazing things they possess and can share with others.
Examples of creative giving:
- Give the gift of talent! Sing a song or put on a dance performance for a grandparent. Put on a magic show for the neighborhood kids, teach someone how to ride a scooter, or draw a picture for a friend. Sharing your talents is not only fun, but gives something to someone that they can pass on as well. And the gifts just keep on giving!
- Write an encouraging note for a friend who has been feeling sad.
- Pay five people a compliment today!
- Donate your time! This can be anything from picking up trash at the park, to baking cookies for your elderly neighbor. Organizations such as Little Hands Can in Lane County specifically hold service events for children and their families. And “giving” supplies are provided so all you have to do is bring yourself!
We would love to hear about the creative ways you come up with to give!