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Even though your children may be young, it’s never too early for them to develop a concern for others. The internet is filled with books, activities, and movies that you can use to instruct them on the importance of feeling empathy for others. Start here for some suggestions. Even without national holidays to remind us of the importance of giving, your child will use these skills every day throughout their lives.
Why Reinforce Generosity
We have a natural inclination to give to people we love. Perhaps you remember when your child was a baby and they offered you a soggy piece of their food? It warmed your heart. It certainly does for me when I teach children who offer things to me. Generosity brings a much greater satisfaction to the giver than to the receiver. Your child will have a better sense of well-being if they are in the habit of doing nice things for others.
Generosity is defined as “[freely] giving or sharing; unselfish”. While a little selfishness is a normal part of growing up, it’s up to us to gently steer children towards doing nice things, starting at home. Many of us are millennials, and we have a horrible reputation as being the “me-generation”. It sounds horrible, doesn’t it? In reality, millennials are more generous than generations in the past, many of them giving hours to volunteer work even though they have college debt.
If you already have an inclination to help others, pass those traits on to the children you raise or work with.
Ways To Teach Kids Generosity
There are many ways to teach generosity. The market is filled with activities and books to teach children about the happiness they get from giving. Even if your children are very young, they can still learn to give to others. Think about the people you see every day.
Do you have neighbors? What about people at your church? Do your kids attend a daycare or club where they see other children their age? It’s very easy for them to be nice. It can start with a smile or wave. Or they can pick up something someone has dropped. Or grabbing something off the bottom shelf for someone taller! With children their own age, they can learn to reach out to others by introducing themselves or sharing toys. Try some of these suggestions.
- Complete this Kind Words Sensory activity with them
- Complete this objects lesson on kindness, which demonstrates how one small act can grow
- Make a copy of the Pledge of Kindness and recite with your kids regularly.
- Follow a curriculum designed to help you teach your children generosity and other good qualities. We Choose Virtues is a great program geared towards parents and homeschoolers with activities designed for young children to reinforce positive qualities.
- Read your child books with a theme in generosity. Start with these:
50 Nice Things Your Child Can Do For Someone
- Say hi to someone you don’t know.
- Share some of your dessert with someone.
- Give a small gift to someone.
- Visit a friend.
- Call someone just to say hi.
- Say “thank you” whenever someone gives you something.
- Donate old toys or clothes.
- Prepare a snack for someone else.
- Give a compliment.
- Give someone a hug.
- Invite someone new to play.
- Say “thank you” to a service worker such as the waitress or a janitor.
- Tell someone “you can do it”.
- Give someone flowers you picked.
- Offer to carry something for someone.
- Hold the door for someone.
- Hold the elevator for someone.
- Give up your seat to someone older than you.
- Offer to bring something to someone if you’re closer to it than they are.
- Allow someone to finish talking before you start.
- Offer to get things off the bottom shelf for a grown-up.
- Make “get well” cards for kids in the hospital.
- Rake leaves or shovel snow for a neighbor.
- Smile at people you see.
- Gather food to donate to the homeless shelter.
- Pick up something someone dropped.
- Say “I love you” to a family member.
- Allow a friend to go before you.
- Draw a picture for someone.
- Bake sweets for someone.
- Forgive someone.
- Tell a joke to make someone laugh.
- Help someone who is having a problem.
- Clean up, even if you didn’t make the mess.
- Introduce yourself to the new kid.
- Surprise someone with a gift.
- Are you really good at something? Help someone who isn’t.
- Let someone borrow something of yours.
- Say “please” when asking for something.
- Draw a “thank you” picture.
- Call a grandparent and tell them what’s new.
- Make a care package.
- Help someone get up.
- Give a friend a piece of candy.
- Have lunch with a classmate you never have before.
- Push in someone’s chair.
- Wave to someone.
- Tell someone you’re happy to see them.
- Teach a kid younger than you.
- Commit to doing something nice every day.
Instead of just telling a child to pick something up for someone or hold the door, let them know that the action they’re displaying is kindness and generosity. Praise them when they take the initiative to do something nice for someone else. Talk to them about their feelings. Ask them if they feel good after helping someone? Let them know that they have the power to make a difference in someone’s life.
Most importantly, lead by example. When kids see you doing something nice, they’ll be moved to imitate you. Think of kind things that you can do together. You’ll both appreciate the satisfaction of helping someone and making a difference.