As moms, we hope that one day our children will grow up to be kind, giving individuals. Trying to guide a child to be generous and caring can be quite difficult, as most children are born with a natural “me” attitude. It can be fairly hard for them to see outside themselves, and notice that others are not as fortunate as them. This is due to a few things. Their worlds are relatively small in the beginning. Luckily, they aren’t exposed to the bad in the world, and they can’t really comprehend that others may not live the same lives as they do. They are also born quite selfish. This is really normal and is pretty much ancient survival instinct kicking in. All this is why we need to teach them to share – it doesn’t come naturally to most.
There are certain ways to incorporate giving and charity into everyday life, teaching your child to look outside of themselves. This does not mean you should teach your child to give away his or her money or to take on a full charitable responsibility, but it is teaching them empathy and selflessness.
However, teaching them about the big bad world and how some are not as fortunate as us can be quite a shock to them. Remember to keep things light and positive.
Here are a few ways to teach your children to care, and to gently have them realize that there are those less fortunate than them, who sometimes might need a little help.
- Tell some fairy tales. Fairy tales are one of the most powerful tools out there when it comes to teaching children life lessons. You can use an old favorite or make up a new story as you go. Every night tell them a different story. Make the hero someone who is passionate about helping others who have less, or who is happy to share what he has with others who have-not. This way you are teaching your child some great life lessons, all while they enjoy an enchanting story.
- Show them what life is like for some. If you live in an area where there are beggars or people living on the street, use this as an opportunity to teach your child. While this might sound dreadful to use the less fortunate to teach your little one a lesson, them being able to see someone who doesn’t have a home or food can help them understand better. Kids are very sensitive, so don’t frighten them too much. But they will surprise you with the amount of care and concern they will have when it hits home. One day, your child might be helping those on the street.
- Use punishment to teach them. Now obviously you will only punish your child if they have done something wrong, but taking away a toy or sweet they love can give them a little taste of how others may feel. Take away their x-box or Lego, or have them give away their sweet. After explaining to them why they are in trouble, whatever it may be, tell them how lucky they are to actually have these privileges as some kids would only dream of having the things they do.
- Show them the way. It is all fair and well explaining to children that there are those who have less, but you need to show them how to help. This will obviously be age appropriate, but starting them young helps develop their own ideas of how to help. Have them do jobs around the house to raise money for a children’s home, get them to put on concerts at the old age home or even go through their old clothes and toys with them and decide what you would like to donate.
Teaching your child compassion and selflessness from a young age will help them grow up to be giving and involved members of the community. Not only does it benefit those that they will be helping, but it also gets them to appreciate their belongings and lifestyles more. They will be more thankful for what they do have, the family that surrounds them, and the incredible life they are lucky enough to live. Raising conscious, empathetic individuals is a great way to give back to society in itself.