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Teaching kids to donate to charity…happily!

27 Nov 2013 – 03:28 PM EST

Children may seem to have a hard time sharing when they’re playing together, but they can certainly learn to give their time and resources to others! You can teach them that it is nice to help others and that it is important to help other people. Children can learn that they feel good when they donate to charity.

What is the right way to teach children about charity?

Leading by example is a great starting point. Let your children see you being kind and thoughtful towards others and explain why. For example, “I held the door open for that man because he was carrying a lot of heavy boxes,” or “Mrs. Smith just had a new baby, so I’m making her a casserole so she doesn’t have to worry about cooking.”

Encourage your child to give in ways that are meaningful to them. Helping out at school and home is a great way to learn the importance of giving back. Children can make a card for a sick classmate or read to a younger sibling while you cook dinner. Explain that helping others is part of building a strong community.

Ways children can learn to give

  • Possessions: Explain to your child that there are some children who have very few items of their own. If you have a children’s charity in mind to donate to, such as a foster care organization or homeless shelter, tell your children about it in an age-appropriate way. Then ask if they have any old toys, books, or clothing they’d like to donate to charity to make these other children feel good. Go through your child’s possessions together. Make sure the items are clean and in good condition with no missing parts.
  • Time and labor: Here are just a few of the many ways children can volunteer to help others.
    • Pull weeds at a community garden or for a neighbor.
    • Play with kittens at an animal shelter.
    • Decorate cupcakes for a bake sale.
    • Anonymously rake leaves or shovel snow for someone in the neighborhood.
    • Clip coupons to donate to others.
    • Help elderly neighbors take their recycling to the curb.
  • Volunteering: Giving as a family is a great way to teach children about helping others. Our family has a tradition of going to the mall the first weekend of December to choose a child from the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree. We then spend several hours looking for the perfect gifts for that child, including a toy, book, and outfit. Our daughter knows this might be the only gift the child receives for Christmas and is committed to making sure it is extra special.

How have you taught your child about giving and volunteering?