If you want to raise young philanthropists, here are some ways that you can help teach your kids the importance of giving.
Model the Behavior
The best way to teach your kids anything is to lead by example. Take the time to volunteer, and bring your kids along. Volunteer at local soup kitchens or shelters, and provide assistance to those in need. Your kids will see how much of a difference they too can make if they are willing to help others.
Give as a Family
Giving should come from the heart, but few children have the natural instinct to give. Make giving a family tradition. Whether gathering toys and clothes to give to others at Christmas time, donating a car that your family no longer needs or getting rid of costly appliances when you upgrade to new ones, make it a family tradition to give together.
Make It a Habit
Kids learn by practice and repetition. To get your kids to form the habit of giving, practice doing it often. For example, clean out the drawers each spring and decide what to keep and what to give away. Give away clothes that don’t fit or that your child never wears. Do the same with the toy box and closet. You can make it a habit to set aside a portion of their allowance to help others (they can decide where it will go), and show them how you are doing the same with the income you earn. If you help them form the habit at a young age, it will make it easier for them to continue saving and giving as they grow.
Give Them a Choice
Don't force your children to do something that they don't want to do, even if it's good for them. Of course, few children will want to go out of their way to help others, but you can try to make it easier on them by providing options. Give them four or five different projects that they can participate in. Letting them choose their own project or charity will give them a sense of involvement and ownership.
Teach Money Management
It's up to you to teach your children money management from a very young age. The ability to manage personal finances is a skill no school will teach, which leaves you to do the teaching. Teach them how to save, spend, and give the money they earn as allowance or from odd jobs, and show them the importance of setting aside money for everything they want to do. If they learn how to handle their money properly from a young age, they will grow up knowing how to set aside money to help others each month.
Getting your kids to be giving can be challenging, no matter how old your kids are or how small the items may be. Whether giving their toys, volunteering their time or spending some of their allowance on a gift for the needy, praise your children. Giving to others is initially tough, and they need the praise to encourage them to keep doing it.
Teaching your children to give will make them upstanding citizens who are conscious of the needs of those around them. You want your children to have the greatest chance of success in their lives, and teaching them to give to others is a very important part of their personal development.
About the Author: Raised by missionaries, Marty Elliott has years of experience working with charitable projects, homeless shelters and endeavors to help those in need. He knows just how much people can appreciate donations of all sorts and strives to help in any way he can — such as by working with boatangel.org.