Parents are the primary shapers of their children’s’ attitudes towards giving. Younger children, in particular, model their relationship with others and how they use money and material things after the habits and lifestyles they are exposed to at home.
Setting the right example and putting in the effort to teach children kindness and generosity will produce adults who practice empathy and giving – values needed to create the next generation of philanthropists.
How can we help our children become people who care about the needs of others—who are givers and not just takers?
Here are 3 ideas for raising generous children:
1. Meet their needs and not their wants.
It’s very important that parents do not forget the system of meeting needs as opposed to wants. Of course, that starts with a proper knowledge and distinction between what your child wants versus what your child needs.
Consider this: Which receives greater attention in your home?
- Does providing the latest gadget or fashion item rank higher than you spending quality time with your child?
- Does being the best on the soccer team or dance group take precedence over your child finding ways to serve others?
The answer to both is based on your choices—you’re the parent. However, you ought to consider the emphasis you place on your resources and success, and where you focus your child’s energy and time.
2. Teach wise spending and giving.
The spending choices you make as a parent will influence your child’s perspective on giving. That’s why it’s important for children to learn the value of money and how to spend and save it early on.
Talk to your young child about how they plan to spend their allowance, financial gift from a family member, or even money they've earned on their own through chores. Direct their attention towards spending on things they need (not want) and perhaps things others might need. You may also teach them about the importance of saving their money and putting some of it towards serving others. Encourage children to share with their siblings, friends, and also to donate clothes and toys to those in need. These acts of service go a long way in teaching kindness and generosity to children.
3. Set a good example.
We can’t ask children to do some thing we aren’t inclined to do ourselves. Children are smarter than that. They learn by imitation, thus parents can teach children how to give by demonstrating their own generosity. How often do you show kindness to a stranger on the street, to your neighbor, or friend in need? Do you donate to a charity or volunteer your time towards serving an organization that helps others? If you do, talk to your children about the importance of these acts of service and when they are old enough have them participate in these activities with you.
As a parent it is your duty to raise a child who will contribute to society in a positive way.
Educate and model for your child a life that demonstrates generosity as a way of living.
Philanthropy can start at a very young age and be sustained if the values of empathy and
generosity are instilled from the beginning.