Giving from the Heart: Tips for Raising Thoughtful, Generous Kids

Piggy banks Giving My All

My earliest memory of donating my own money was when I was about 8 years old. My family and I were listening to a public radio station and they were having a fund drive. I had a small stash of money, and I remember asking my parents to please call in and donate my meager amount. I think it was less than $10.00, but I gave them everything I had, and I was so proud. My parents have always been thoughtful, sacrificing, charitable people, even during lean times when we ourselves had very little at all. I'm sure that's where I get my charitable nature.

Charitable Lessons

Teaching kids to be charitable, thoughtful, generous people isn't necessarily an easy lesson though. At ages 4 and 2, my Darling Boys are mostly concerned with making sure they get their fair share. Although sometimes out of the blue they do and say the sweetest things. Darling 1 likes to buy me roses, especially when he sees single roses for sale near a check-out counter. Darling 2 loves to cuddle and say "I yove you" and according to his preschool teachers, he is always concerned about the other kids who are upset about something.

When Darling 1 was almost 3 years old, we were at a local mall play area and he played with a cute little girl. After leaving the play area, we went on to do some shopping and Darling 1 spotted an orange butterfly-topped pony-tail holder. He asked to buy it for the girl. I hesitated, thinking we would never see her again, but he was so adamant that I agreed to it. As we were preparing to leave the mall, we did run into the girl and her mom, Darling 1 was so very proud (and shy) when he gave her his little gift. And I was so proud of him thinking of someone other than himself. It's during these times, that the boys pick out and give a gift to someone or actually share snacks or toys with each other, that I feel there's still hope of raising generous, thoughtful men.

Now don't get me wrong, there's still plenty of "gimme, gimme, gimme" and "mine, mine, mine" to be heard in our household. Just the other day, there was a complete smack-down in the kitchen floor over who got to use the Lightning McQueen placemat for breakfast. In fact, neither one got the placemat. We have not used any placemats since that incident last week.

The point is to keep teaching by example, as best we can, by being thankful, giving, generous, understanding, forgiving, and sacrificing to those in our household as well as to those outside of our household. This is not always an easy task; take it from me and my experience with the placemat meltdown.

Tips for Battling Greed

Here are a few tips for weeding out greed and sowing seeds of love, patience, selflessness and generosity:

  1. When possible, take your child with you to do volunteer work. If not possible, talk with your child about the volunteer work you did; why you did it; who will benefit; and how you felt after helping someone;
  2. When making a monetary or in-kind donation of any kind, talk to your kids about it. Let them help decide how much to give, what to give or where to give;
  3. Always be thankful, not just in your heart, but with your voice. Practice makes perfect. By always saying how thankful you are for things in your life; the choices you have, etc. you will truly feel thankful;
  4. Talk about areas of your community, country and world where there's disaster, homelessness, hunger, poverty, etc. and how your family could help;
  5. Let your kids pick out toys and books for donating;
  6. Discuss money and how to save for something you really want, but can't afford right now;
  7. Help your child set up a savings account and set goals for the money saved;
  8. Assign age appropriate tasks or chores to your child with or without monetary rewards for doing the tasks;
  9. Encourage your child to choose and buy or make gifts for siblings, parents, grandparents, godparents, teachers, etc. The gift doesn't have to cost much. It could cost nothing at all. It really is the thought that counts; and the lesson learned about how good it feels to give; and
  10. Practice what you preach. Your kids are always watching you and learning by your actions.

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The Scoop

It's normal to want to give your child everything he or she wants. You love your child and you want him or her to be happy. But giving in to every request teaches greed and does not foster patience, diligence, generosity or other highly desirable characteristics. These are lessons that I struggle with every day. I still have lots of pruning, weeding and fertilizing to do when it comes to my Darling Boys, but that's what parenting is all about taking one day at a time, and doing the best you can. There are days we say we wish we could "do-over," and boy am I glad we get the next day to do just that.

How do you teach your kids to be giving, sharing, thoughtful, generous human beings? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas. On Friday, I will post a bit of Motherly Advice. Over and out…

Anna

You might also like:

Easing My Conscience: Giving Recyclables a New Lease on Life

Bringing up Baby: Tips for Raising "Good People"

Keep the Home Fires Burning: Tips for a Happy and Fulfilling Marriage

 

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