This is a paid guest post.
The goal of every parent is for their child to grow up and be a kind, giving, morally upstanding member of society. Whilst some people are naturally more compassionate and empathetic than others, most behaviours are learned, and the coveted charitable trait is no different.
To an extent, humans are as generous as they are selfish, but it’s important that the former instinct is nurtured from a young age to ensure it prevails more than the latter. The simplest way to do this is to teach your child to share their toys and belongings with others, but being charitable and giving goes much further than just sharing.
Privilege is something most of us have but don’t always realise we have, and it’s essential that in order to create a fair society we have the ability to recognise where we can use our privilege to help those less fortunate. The earlier we can identify social issues and act to aid them, the better and fairer the world will be.
If you’re wondering how you can encourage your child to be generous and selfless without it turning into a confusing discussion beyond their comprehension, keep reading.
Identify a Cause
When it comes to charity, everyone has their preference. Whether you would prefer to help the homeless, feeding an orphan, preserve the environment or support an animal shelter, there will be one cause that resonates with you more than others. Children are no different. By laying out various different charitable causes and asking them which one they’d like to help, they’re more likely to want to get involved as oppose to if you chose a charity for them which they may not particularly feel drawn to.
Highlight the Importance
Children may find it hard to comprehend the importance of giving to charity, so making like-for-like comparisons is essential. If your child has chosen to support a homeless person, you can draw focus by explaining that not everyone has a home or a bed, and some people don’t get to have yummy lunches because they don’t have any food. By giving away a bit of their pocket money or some of their food, they can help a homeless person find a house to live in and food to eat. If your child is younger and can’t quite understand the direct impact of helping a charity, you will need to elaborate further with examples.
Sometimes, it’s hard to grasp how bad something is until you see it with your own eyes. Children are sensitive and shouldn’t be exposed to traumatic material, but there are ways you can show them just how important their generosity is. In reference to the homeless issue, if your child can’t quite visualise how a homeless person might live, show them. Find a child-friendly video or take them on a trip to town and explain that some people have to sleep in doorways or out on the street because they don’t have a house, and that’s why it’s important to give to charity to help those less fortunate.
You can show them examples of success stories and milestones the charity has reached. It might be that you show them a picture of a family living in poverty and then of the same family after they got help. It could be that you show them what a littered landscape looked like beforehand and how it looks after it was cleaned up. Showing the difference charity can make is an easy way to make children understand how important their contribution is, especially if they choose a charity that helps people in a country far away where they can’t see the first-hand impact face-to-face.
Children respond well to positive reinforcement, so making sure you fuss about their good deed will encourage them to do it more often. Giving to charity sparks a chemical reaction in the brain which gives us that warm, fuzzy feeling we get when we do something good, and when your child experiences this they should want to do it again, but giving them a small treat might help them along. That being said, giving to charity shouldn’t be something that’s done in order to get something back, it should be about wanting to help because you can and because you care. So, limiting the rewards as time goes on is vital, but in the beginning, incentivising the act isn’t a bad thing.
The more you teach your child about helping others and the importance of being a kind person, the more likely they are to carry it through to adulthood and become a morally upstanding member of society. All in all, if you teach your child good values from a young age, the more you and society as a whole can reap the rewards as they grow up.