Are you a parent of one or more children under 18 years of age? If so, do you prioritize the lessons of empathy, volunteering, and donating to charity?
Why are these lessons valuable?
Mary Gordon provides the answer to this question with the following quotation:
Teaching children emotional literacy and developing their capacity to take the perspective of others are key steps towards collaboration and civility; they are indispensable steps towards preventing aggressive and bullying behaviors. As children develop empathy, it seems to come ready-made with courage and imagination. Children understand marginalization and issues of social justice in a clear and uncluttered way.”
Therefore, here are six top tips to help you teach your children about the importance of charitable giving:
6 Tips for Teaching Your Kids About the Importance of Charity
1. Lead by example
At this juncture, it is critical to note that these three lessons are taught not only by instruction and formal lessons but also by parental example.
In other words, if you demonstrate these values in your life, your children will imitate you. However, if you are miserly, and ignore the plight of those less fortunate than you are, your children will more than likely ignore the formal lessons. After all, why should they donate to a charity like Yad Ezra V’Shulamit if you don’t live a life of empathy, giving, and volunteering?
Consequently, parents need to create a family environment where giving is part of family life. And children need to see that giving is considered a privilege and not a chore. As a result, positive behaviors are enforced, and children will soon accept that this is an essential aspect of living a positive, healthy life.
2. Start involving your children from a very young age
Very young children do not instinctively know that other people have feelings, emotions, and ideas. They need to be taught that other people matter. Therefore, you can start introducing the need to be empathic as soon as possible. By the time children are three years old, they begin to understand that other people have feelings that they need to respect. Ergo, strong foundations of empathy must be laid because compassion is the basis for charitable giving.
3. Involve your children in volunteer activities
As described above, children learn by example. Therefore, the best way to teach and reinforce the lessons of empathy, volunteering, and charitable giving is to take your kids with you as soon as they are old enough.
It does not matter what your economic and social standing is. Children from the wealthiest families to the most impoverished families must learn empathy. An excellent example of children learning about empathy, volunteering, and charitable giving irrespective of who their parents are, is when the children of the UK’s Prince William and Kate Middleton packed and helped delivered food parcels to the residents of Norfolk, UK during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
4. Adopt a family charity
Adopting a charity or NGO is a vital part of functioning together as a family. Allow children to be part of the decision about who to support jointly, allowing them to feel valued and part of the family unit. This decision-making process must include discussions about the pros and cons of supporting a particular charitable concern. Allow your children to express why they believe that the family should support the charity or NGO.
These discussions and joint decision-making processes help children feel respected and valued, and they also learn what to look out for when deciding which charitable organization to support.
5. Make family giving a habit
It is essential to make family giving a habit. And it is worth reiterating that the salient point is not how much you give but that you give.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the global economy. Models predicting the economic impact of the coronavirus on the world’s economy suggest that the global economy could lose up to $21.8 trillion (USD) alone in 2020.
And, while statistical modeling is reasonably accurate, the biggest challenge with this virus is that no one knows what will happen tomorrow. The best-case scenario would be that the virus burns out quickly, and we go back to living as we used to before the virus struck the world’s population. However, there is every indication that the virus will be around for the foreseeable future. The world will have to learn to function with the virus intact in our global society.
Consequently, the need is great, and every little bit helps.
6. Get involved in the community
Healthy communities are an extension of the family unit. And communities cannot function without residents getting involved and helping each other when the need arises. Finally, local communities can be seen as a microcosm of the larger world. Therefore, children can learn empathy, charitable giving, and volunteering in the area where they live. Examples of helping others include, doing chores for the elderly living in the community, helping out at a local soup kitchen, and keeping the neighborhood clean and tidy..
For more on this topic, check out the full Helping Others collection