How to Teach Your Kids to Be Generous

Updated on September 18, 2018
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Kate is a homeschooling mom of four kids, ranging in age from six to 17.

Generosity comes in many forms. We give monetarily by supporting our churches and various charitable organizations. We give our time through volunteering at local hospitals, running marathons to raise money for research or teaching Sunday school class. We also give our spirits, as we strive to be kind and thoughtful in our actions. And we share our talents with others through various activities.

As parents, it is important that we teach our children how to be generous. They look to us for their life lessons, and we have great influence over them in their early years.

It is never too early to start showing your child how to be giving and to instill the importance of this in their hearts. Below are some tips on how to teach your kids to be generous.

1. Set an example whenever you can.

The first and primary way to teach and instill certain character traits in your kids is to live them yourself. You need to be a strong example of someone who is giving in nature.

Your children observe you and look up to you. They intuitively pick up on far more than you realize.

Do you exemplify kindness by being polite to people you encounter at the grocery store? Do you speak to your neighbours when you cross paths on the walking trail? Do you show patience when an elderly driver is in front of you, even if you are in a rush?

Do you engage in volunteer and community activities with some of your spare time? And do you find time to donate to various causes, even though you have a busy schedule?

True generosity is taught in the home, and the best way to teach it is through actions. And instead of choosing one charitable thing to do each year, it is far better to weave generosity into the fabric of your life, and those of your children.

2. Enroll your children in volunteering activities.

Actions are indeed important. As a parent, you have a lot of influence over some of the things your children do. The summer often offers a lot of free time, and this can be the perfect opportunity to get them started with some volunteer work.

How about finding some volunteer opportunities that are appropriate for kids their age? This is an ideal way to let them explore their generous sides. And they can gain perspective and compassion during such projects.

Volunteer opportunities for kids can be one-time projects or something that is done on an ongoing basis. If your kids are young, look for things you can do together as a family.

3. Talk to your children about the importance of giving.

You do not want your kids to turn out to be self-centred brats, now do you? It is up to you to try to stop such a terrible outcome!

Use books and Bible lessons as catalysts for talks with your children about the nature of giving. You need to consistently teach this message whenever possible.

We often forget what we are taught, even as adults. The key to really engraving the message of generosity in your children's psyche is to tell them over and over again. And show them over and over again.

4. Educate your children about charities, and ask them to donate part of their allowance to charity.

People who are generous with their money have often been that way for a long time. They do not wait until they have a lot of money in order to donate some of it to the unfortunate. Instead, their heart tells them to try to give whenever they can, even if that requires some sacrifices.

One way to start helping your children gain this generous perspective is to ask them to donate a portion of their allowance to charity. It does not have to be a huge monetary amount, as their allowances are probably small.

Try to instead teach them to give a percentage of what they have. That way, they realize that giving is about taking a portion of what you have from yourself and using it to help someone else.

If you can, let your child pick which organization or charity they would like to support so they feel a personal connection to it. Whether it's donating to the local pet shelter or using some of their allowance to buy food for the food bank, you want to be sure they understand who they are helping with their donations.

5. Encourage your children to be kind to others.

Kids, unfortunately, can be mean, but hopefully, your children will not be of that sort. It's so important to talk about why kindness is necessary. And you, of course, can set the example of kind behavior.

Remind your children that it's easier to be kind when things are going their way, but it can sometimes be harder to do so when not. You can use games and movies to help drive home how to be a good loser and how to treat others.

There are so many outstanding children's movies that teach certain morals. Use discussions of such movies as ways to talk more about kindness and generosity of spirit.

6. Engage in family activities of generosity.

Finally, your family can grow and have fun while participating in group activities that involve generosity. Perhaps the entire family will walk an upcoming local 10-K for charity. Or maybe you can go together to work at a soup kitchen one Saturday a month, or collect donations of food or clothing for a family in need.

Again, it's about weaving generosity into the fabric of your family. And you can best do that through your actions as a family.

Generosity is an important character trait that parents need to encourage in their children from a young age. With these tips, generosity will become second nature for your kids well into their teen and adult years.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

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