It’s essential, as a parent, to teach your children the importance of giving back and being grateful for everything they have and are given. While it’s not always easy to teach life’s big lessons, and it certainly doesn’t happen overnight, as parents we must do all we can. As a daddy to six kids with another on the way, I’ve learned a few critical components helpful in teaching kids about giving back.
Volunteer: One of the biggest and most powerful things you can do is to volunteer – together with your child. Volunteering at the soup kitchen serving and or making food, volunteering at an old-folks home reading to the elderly or even volunteering to walk homeless shelter dogs are all great things to do. Engaging in the act of volunteering with your child will allow them to be able to appreciate everything they have and to be empathetic towards those less fortunate. It will allow them to feel a sense of accomplishment when they see the reactions and emotions their volunteering brings out in others.
Donate: Donating is an important part of giving back. Discuss the idea of “giving to others” with your child and allow them to brainstorm a list of items they could donate or give, and who they would donate those items too. If your child has a plethora of stuffed animals or old books, for example, maybe they’d consider donating a few of the ones they don’t use anymore to a local nursery, homeless shelter or hospital. If your child has been saving up money maybe they’ll want to donate that (and you could match their donation) to the soup kitchen or animal shelter to help others. Remember donations don’t have to be huge; they just have to be thoughtful.
Giving Thanks: Encourage your child to be appreciative on a daily basis. Ask your child what he’s thankful for, and express your own thanks and gratitude as well. Bake cookies or muffins with your child to deliver to people who help you everyday like the babysitter, the mailman, their teacher, etc. When your child takes time to reflect upon all that he is thankful for he will likely become more compassionate and have a stronger desire to share things with others as well.
Helping: Kids often take their parents for granted, but having your children help out with household chores and duties will make them more appreciative for all that mommy and daddy do. In my household, on top of helping with daily chores, my boys and I make a point to do something extra special for Mrs. Daddy Nickell at least once a month – just to say thanks for all that she does. We make her breakfast in bed, vacuum the house, treat her to a spa day, etc. Small, consistent tasks such as helping with household chores will lead to greater community involvement and gratitude down the road.
Life’s biggest lessons are generally the most difficult ones to teach to children, but with a positive outlook and consistent guidance your children will understand the idea of giving back in no time!