While a certain self-focus and greed is natural among young children, parents can take action to help instill of the act of giving instead of getting. Raising a giving child starts with a giving family. During gift-giving seasons, volunteering as a family to help groups or individuals in need can help kids learn the joy of giving and sharing. A side benefit is that emphasis on the act of giving will also help children focus less on the getting end.
Thanksgiving and Christmas as well as Hanukkah and Kwanzaa are ideal occasions to emphasize the spirit of philanthropy with your children. Birthdays are also a memorable way to celebrate turning a year older through volunteerism. Charitable giving and volunteering as a family extend the gift of giving of personal time as well as a loving contribution of helping hands and hearts. Your family CAN make a positive difference in your community when you volunteer as a team. Volunteering as a family helps strengthen family bonds, enhances communication, and sends a message to your children that you're all in it together!
What can you and your family do?
- Donate items to be sold at service organizations' resale stores. Ask your children to go through their things and choose well-loved items in excellent condition. Don't let children pick only broken or items in poor condition. Needy children won't want a cast-off in disrepair any more than your children. Parents offer different strategies to create a senses of philanthropy with their young. One plan is to have them pick 10 items they can donate (parent approved, of course). In exchange, you will take them to the park or for ice cream as a special way to celebrate. There are no "rules" to helping your child feel good about donating. But, remember that the spirit of generosity and giving starts young, and often is a difficult concept to fully embrace among children.
- Shop or volunteer at the resale stores. Great bargains can be found at resale stores, and your business will help support the organizations.
- Organize a food or clothing drive in your neighborhood or school, and have all proceeds benefit a charity. Let older children research organizations and determine where the items raised will be donated.
- Involve your children in helping to sort and stack. Even young children can separate big clothes from little sizes; boys styles from girls.
- Ask your school or child care if they have a favorite charity or have children with needs that can be met through some generous donations. Schools often have lists of children needing school supplies; your family can help put together the needed supplies and provide them to the school to anonymously give to the child. That is a sure way to make everyone feel great about giving!
- Recruit others to expand the circle of giving. Often, families want to volunteer but are not sure how or where to get started.