In this increasingly self-absorbed world where people can spend more time staring at a screen then they can communicating with each other face to face, it’s getting more and more important to teach children the importance of doing good in the world. As well, with the growing number of natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other conflicts and issues, in addition to the fluctuating economies around the world, there seems to be more people who need help than ever before.
If you’re keen to teach your children to donate to charities, volunteer their time, raise money for a good cause or otherwise help someone who needs it, read on for some ways you can encourage them to do good today.
Donate Clothes, Toys, Books and Other Household Items
In this day and age, most families accumulate a huge amount of “stuff” over the year that gets quickly discarded, forgotten, or buried in the closet. When you can see that your house, or a particular room, is starting to burst at the seams, get your children to help you go through items and make a large pile to donate to charities, shelters, churches, or other relevant organization. Make sure this includes your child’s things as well, particularly clothes they have grown out of or just don’t wear, and toys and games they no longer play with.
Make It a Part of Everyday Life
One of the best things you can do to instil a charitable heart in children is to make giving back a part of their everyday life, not just a once-a-year thing. There are various ways to do this, but one of the simplest is to shop with a conscience every week.
Take your children with you when you buy groceries, bedding, clothing, and other items, and teach them to look for products which are ethically produced and/or support charities and not-for-profit organizations. Teach your child to look for the feel-good choice every time, and they’ll soon be reminding you if you stray from the principles you’re espousing!
Look for products which donate a percentage of sales to a charity or which match purchases with donations (such as TOMS, with its one-for-one model, where a product is donated for every one purchased). There are also lots of great products which are made sustainably and mindfully, such as those created from organic or recycled materials, or which are not tested on or made from any animals.
Volunteer as a Family
Similarily, it also works well to spend some time volunteering together as a family. By being a good role model and getting involved yourself, not just expecting your children to, you will more likely encourage them to follow in your footsteps.
Depending on the age of your children, you might like to spend a few hours once a week or month volunteering at your local soup kitchen, food bank, community garden, church, or other venue where you can help people in your community. You can also arrange to give your time when you’re on holidays, or to spend part of special days such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter helping those in need.
If your children are too young to spend time volunteering time outside the home, then keep in mind there are plenty of things they can do at your own house too. You can put together a food basket to donate to your local shelter, or have them write letters or create drawings and other items which can be sent to children having a tough time.
Make Birthdays and other Celebratory Days Charitable Occasions
While children always count down the days (and even months) until their birthday and/or Christmas, usually because they can’t wait to see what presents they will receive, you can also use these celebratory days as opportunities to teach them to give back. When it comes down to it, after all, how many presents do they really need to open on the day, and how many items will they end up appreciating, and using, over the long term?
While there is no need to cut out all gifts, you could consider turning birthday parties into chances to help others less fortunate. Ask guests to bring non-perishable food items, toys, or other gifts to a party instead of a present for the birthday boy or girl. At Christmas, asks grandparents, aunties, uncles, and other relatives to donate to children in need rather than adding to your child’s stockpile of gifts.