When my son tuned 16 earlier this year, I asked him what special thing he wanted to do on his birthday. One of his responses almost brought me to tears. He said he would like to go round the town, find, and give something to homeless people. Words alone can't express how I felt in that moment. So, we set a budget for the exercise, and I drove him around town, joyfully watching how he interacted and gave to the homeless he could find.
As I reflect on this, and all the things he could have chosen to do and spend money on, choosing to remember the privileges he has, and that not everyone has the same privilege and opportunities made my heart joyful as a parent. You see, if there was a non-negotiable list of virtues that I wanted him and his sisters to grow up with, a heart of giving will be on my priority list.
Why is giving so important?
A giving heart is a grateful heart. When you live a life of gratitude, you are simply buying yourself insurance against almost everything that makes most people fail in life. Giving is also the first proof of love. And this does not have to be material things alone. As a matter of fact, it's often said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love, without giving. From a simple thank you, to acts of kindness, to offering value to people, to appreciating your partner, kids, and coworkers, to thoughtful and personalized gifts, giving is a great way to create the future you want. In other words, whatever you want to experience more of tomorrow, giving it out today, will almost guarantee it will come back to you, multiplied.
Are you having a hard time teaching your kids about how important it is to give? If so, here are five tips you can apply as you raise them to become lifelong givers, starting this holiday, and beyond.
Start with a Small Act
Many people have a hard time getting motivated to give because they feel like their contribution won’t matter in the long run. Prove to your kids that every little bit counts when it comes to giving either time or resources. You can find someone in your community that your kids can help with something like yard work, car wash or other chores around the house that won’t expose them to any danger.
The next steps is to reward them for their good deeds and explain how even a small act of kindness can be a big help to someone. That way, they’ll probably be more willing (and excited) to help the next time.
Set a Good Example
Kids don’t follow what we say as much as they follow what they see us do as parents. If you want your kids to pick up on how important it is to give, make sure that you practice giving yourself. Let them see you putting aside time to help others or donating to a charitable organization. Remember, it’s more difficult to get your kids to want to give when they’ve never seen you do so. Plan it together with them and explain why you are giving to everyone you chose to give to.
The second part of this is to set aside an appreciation day for your kids. I recommend this to be different than any other popular holiday you may be used to celebrating. It should also be different from their birthdays. Have the family plan the day specially to appreciate each of your kids; and make it memorable for him or her. Consider giving a special gift that reminds them of your love for them, and who they are.
Connect Them With Other Kids
It's often easier for your kids to connect with the idea of giving if they’re involved in a project with their peers. Look for opportunities like food banks or toy drives in your community. Check to see if they allow children to participate in their programs. If there aren’t any kid-friendly charitable organizations in your area, consider taking it upon yourself to organize a volunteer event. You also have the option of seeking out online charities or volunteer organizations that kids can relate to.
Make Them Feel Empowered
The greatest motivator for giving is the feeling that you can make a difference in someone's life. If you want your children to feel good about giving, make them feel good about themselves. Let them know that the things they have to say are important and encourage them to use their talents to give back to others. If they feel empowered, they’ll feel like they can, and will make a difference.
Our customers often choose merch (from Tees, hoodies, blankets, bags, etc., with empowering words and phrases which their loved ones wear occasionally. This ensures that these positive words, phrases and images are tattooed in the minds of their kids or loved ones.
Teach them how to give to you.
This is often one of the most neglected actions. Yet, one of the most impactful. As a parent, you are the first model of many things that will shape the future of your children. And there are many occasions throughout the year that provide opportunities for children to learn the art of giving by making you, the parent, their recipients. Help them save up for gifts for mom and dad, show them how to shop for the right gifts for you, how to present it to you. And very importantly, how their giving is a seed that will one day yield fruits in some ways.
You only have to do a few times and you will be proud to watch how they build this habit without prompting. They will take initiatives and give to you in the way that makes you proud as a parent.
If you practice the act of giving on a regular basis with your kids, they will grow up with strong values in generosity and charity. This is especially important for kids who are growing up and developing into who they will become later in life. Talk to your children about how important it is to give, teach them how to do it, and they will almost certainly make you proud of their compassion in the future.
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