How can we get our kids interested in giving to others or doing charitable activities? We should have set a good example early on but didn’t. Is it too late to get them started?
Melissa Michaud, licensed professional counselor at Riverpath Counseling Colorado, shares the following tips:
It’s never too late to instill new values or traditions in your family. While self-focused behavior is a normal developmental stage for kids, some need the extra boost to learn how to care for others. Giving often sprouts from empathy, which is a learned rather than inherent trait. So how do you go about teaching something so abstract?
Take an honest look at your own actions. Are you modeling generosity in your daily life? It only takes a moment to hold the door for a stranger or to help a neighbor shovel their walk.
Are you positively reinforcing your children when they display acts of kindness? Start small. When your child gives a friend part of his snack or is willing to share a toy at the pool, praise them for these actions. Attention strengthens behaviors.
Talk in age-appropriate terms about the struggles others endure. Volunteer together at a soup kitchen or animal shelter. Putting a face to a need can help kids understand the concept of charity and why it is important.
Make it fun! While this topic can be solemn, it doesn’t always have to be. Decorate and deliver treat boxes for neighbors, or let your kids help pick out a gift for a child in need during the holidays, for example. Make it a family excursion.
Before you know it, giving will be a regular part of your family culture and part of your child’s world.