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Teaching Children about Giving Back

Teaching Children about Giving Back
Posted on November 21, 2017 by CHS

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and it is the perfect time to teach your child about being thankful and giving back. At a young age, children are full of curiosity and are still learning about the difference between right and wrong. It’s important to teach your child about gratitude and helping others at an early age. By taking time to understand the value of giving back, children will learn that doing nice things for others feels good.

Did you know that the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is #GivingTuesday? #GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. Millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. To celebrate and promote generosity, Children’s Home Society of California has joined up with #GivingTuesday. Click here to learn about different ways to support our children today.

How to Teach the Importance of Giving Back

Make Comparisons
According to Beverly Anderson, Executive Director of Ebenezer Child Care Centers in Teaching Children the Importance of Giving Back, “use this time of the year to discuss with your children why it is important to give back by drawing simple comparisons to their own lives.” Try describing what your family has in relation to people that are less fortunate. As an example, you can remind your child how there are many people that are less fortunate and go hungry because they can’t afford food regularly. You can further talk about the importance of donating food or volunteering his time to help others and explain that by donating food or helping at a local food pantry, he can help a family have a healthy meal. Statements like these will help your child ask questions so that he can further understand the value of giving.

Choose Age-Appropriate Opportunities
Kristin Testmer, author of the article Teaching Your Kids about Giving Back, suggests that parents  “remember to tailor activities based on your child’s age and interests, and be patient as they grow to understand the importance of giving back.” Children are curious by nature and sometimes lack patience. For example, you would not expect a 5-year-old to carry 40 pounds of clothes or a 3-year-old to read to a group of 7-year-old children. Use your judgement on what you think your child can handle and take it slowly as your child learns the value of giving back.

Use What Your Child is Passionate About
Anderson also suggests giving back by doing something your family loves. Is your child passionate about animals, reading, or cooking? Take your child to volunteer at animal shelters, libraries, or food pantries. You can also donate used books in good condition, clothing, or canned food at these locations. By allowing your child to help out with what she loves, he will feel gratification and have fun while she gives back.

Make Giving Back a Regular Routine
Create a goal for your family to give back regularly and the act of giving will be ingrained to become a habit for your child. For example, you could drop off food at shelters once a month or do volunteer service twice a month. The important thing is that you do this as a family routinely, creating habits that your child can carry into adulthood when he has his own family.

Below are some ideas from Chick Moorman and Thomas Haller, authors of 9 Ways to Teach Your Child about Charity, on how your child can give back:

  • Donate old clothes and toys that your child has outgrown or that have not been worn or played with for over a year. Be sure to allow your child to choose the clothes and toys to donate on her own so that she is included in the process and is not made upset by her clothes or toys disappearing without her knowing.
  • Helping out your neighbors helps foster a sense of community. Your child can rake leaves for elderly neighbors, offer water and snacks to garbage collectors or mail carriers, and your teenagers can babysit for your neighbors’ little children.
  • Buy some dog or cat food for your child to donate to a local animal shelter. After donating the animal food, you and your child can visit the animals as a fun activity that also puts the donation into perspective.

There are many different ways to give back. Feel free to get creative with your family and come up with some ideas of your own as well.

You can find more ways to give back by reading the full articles, 9 Ways to Teach Your Child about Charity and 5 Ways to Teach Your Kids about Giving Back

Community Service: A Family’s Guide to Getting Involved (English)

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