This is a guest post by Sitinee Sheffert.
A story that beautifully illustrated this quote was a video that went viral of a little girl at a restaurant giving her dinner plate to a homeless man. She then returned to her table and watched the homeless man enjoy the meal, and you can just feel her empathy and compassion for the man she just helped.
“Ella you are amazing. I think you just made his day”, the proud father said to his daughter.
The difference she made for that man on that day not only impacted him but also touched hundreds of thousands of people.
So how do we continue to engage our children to be more kind and empathetic individuals like Ella?
We are living in a time where families are so busy. Kids are running from activity to activity. Parents are working hard to make ends meet. As a parent of 4 children, I can testify that it ‘s hard to impart core values in my kids, especially how they can be more empathetic and kind and become more active participants in society.
However, we need to engage our children in giving. As the motivational speaker, Steve Marboli once said, “What we instill in our children will be the foundation upon which they will build their future.” If we start at a young age to engage our children in giving, it becomes part of who they are, a kinder and more compassionate individuals willing to help others.
So here are five simple ways that we can engage children in giving.
Make Giving Visible
Children learn best by observing. They are like sponges soaking up everything they hear, see, and feel. If children never see us being compassionate, how will they know what to do? If they never actively see us being charitable, how do they learn to give to others?
As adults, our charitable acts are typically through supporting organizations by donating money. However, children often do not see us writing the checks or giving online. So next time, when you are making a charitable monetary contribution, have your child observe what you are doing. Explain to them who you are helping and why. Involving them in the process shows them that being charitable is an important part of who you are.
Make Giving Intentional
Find time with your child to help someone out intentionally. For example, my kids and I love making blessing bags. Blessing bags are simply bags, sometimes decorated, and filled with necessities like band-aids, Kleenex, toothpaste, and toothbrushes. The idea is to give the bag to someone we feel could benefit from it.
Knowing we have these bags in our car; the children will actively find someone to help. Handing out blessings bags is a great experience for the children because my kids are not only actively helping someone, but they also directly get to experience the appreciation of the recipient.
Make Giving Fun
If we can make the giving experience a fun experience, it will be something children will want to continue. The program I started, Giving Artfully Kids, uses crafting as a way to teach children the have the capability and power to make a difference in someone’s life.
These kids not only have fun crafting items, but they feel a sense of ownership and selflessness knowing their hands are making something for someone else. The feeling is so rewarding that they often ask if they can continue making more items. Giving is fun, and they want to continue to help others.
Make Giving Time a Family Tradition
Make giving a part of your family tradition. Giving should not just be an activity during the holidays, but something you do all year round. Whether it is weekly, monthly or every other month, let everyone in the family know that it is an activity everyone will be doing together, a family tradition.
As children grow older, quality family time becomes less frequent. Therefore, it is crucial to make this time together meaningful. Whether you spend time volunteering at the hospital, making items to donate, or distributing blessing bags as a family, make it a family tradition that children will look forward to and want to continue the tradition themselves.
[bctt tweet=”Check out these 5 simple ways to engage your children in #giving? #socialgood”]
Make Children Take Ownership
Children develop a capacity of generosity at a young age. Nurture this generosity and let children take some ownership in the giving process. The more the children are involved, the more they will want to be part of it. Whether guiding them in coming up with a charitable idea, or having them help shop for items, let your children be active participants. Once they have a sense of ownership, it can quickly transform into the children finding more ways to be charitable.
A Family That Gives Together, Grows Together
Regardless of the age of your children, it is never too early or too late to start engaging your children in giving. Teach them the importance of giving and show them it is not just something we do on a whim, but it is intentional, meaningful and fun. Together, as we continue to engage children in giving, we can create a more compassionate, kinder and empathetic society.
About Sitinee Sheffert
Sitinee Sheffert is a wife, mom of four, and the founder of Giving Artfully and Giving Artfully Kids. Her passion for crafting and helping others led her to build the website, Giving Artfully, to connect crafters with volunteer opportunities and then Giving Artfully Kids, a curriculum that teaches children about kindness and giving through crafting.