5 Tips For Teaching Kids to Give Back
The holiday season offers a great opportunity to teach children about gratitude. But it is important to do things year round to help them learn the importance of being thankful and giving back.
5 Tips for Teaching Kids to Give Back
It can be a difficult concept for young children, so mastering the art of gratitude requires constant, long-term reinforcement. These are some things my husband and I are doing to teach our daughter to not only be grateful, but also discover the joy of giving.
Instill a Sense of Gratitude
Each evening before dinner we go around the table and share something we are thankful for. It has to be specific to the day. We don't do general things like family, friends, health, or possessions. We look for something positive about each day for which we can be grateful.
Teach Kids to be Gracious
I have a tendency to cringe when my child opens a gift and has a negative reaction to it. I explain regularly it isn’t the gift, but the spirit of giving that matters most. When someone cares enough to give her something, she should be thankful for the act, even if she is not crazy about the item. And we always write thank you notes.
Make it a Family Affair
The best way to teach children is by modeling the behaviors you want to see. We regularly go through all our clothes and things to select items that can be given to charity. My husband and I talk often with our child about how fortunate we are to have a home, clothes, toys, and plenty of food to eat. And we actively look for ways to help others.
Turn Passion Into aAction
There are countless ways to give back. I recently took the opportunity to teach my young daughter that she has the power to make a difference. When she fell in love with tigers and learned of their plight in the wild, we set up a charitable drive to help the efforts of a nonprofit organization in saving them. She emptied her piggy bank (which is actually a duck) to start things off.
Remember the Intangibles
Giving to and receiving from others isn't always about things or money. Time and caring can also be a valuable, much-needed way to give back. My four-year-old regularly visits my father in a memory care facility. She takes time to smile and share hugs with the residents there, who find so much joy in her presence. She overlooks the wheelchairs and adult diapers and offers them the gifts of love and acceptance.
Teaching children gratitude is a continual process and can be a challenge. But with understanding, patience, and perseverance you will see results. As your children grow older, they will be more able to grasp the concept and become eager and able to express it.
Elizabeth Flora Ross is a freelance writer for WhatToExpect.com, living in Florida with her husband and daughter. You can find her on her personal blog, The Writer Revived. She is also the creator of The Mom Pledge, an anti-cyberbullying campaign aimed at moms.
What ways are you teaching your kids to give back?