One of the most rewarding reasons to get involved in your community
is to set a good example and become a role model for your kids. Whether
money or time, giving back is beneficial, and not just for the
recipients. The reward for your selfless acts can be a beautiful thing
for both your
community and your children’s future. But what are some of the ways
you can teach kids to give back and what age should you begin
Giving back is just as much about volunteering as it is about philanthropy. Dr. Lois Winchell, child and family therapist
and Argosy University, Sarasota
instructor believes it should be a combination of both. “If we want
our children to give back, our families need to be involved in
multiple activities,” says Winchell. “These include volunteering
resources and time and
giving money when possible. Learning how to donate time can be a
very powerful lesson for children because it is a giving of ourselves.
experience can be significant and can often reap a more personal
reward than the offering of money and things.”
As with everything else in life, kids learn best by example. The
closer you can bring your child to the recipient of the gift, the more
“Nurturing a sense of giving and making sure this is a value for
your children starts as early as age 3 or 4,” says Winchell. “At this
we can teach them that others have feelings and that your child has
an impact on those feelings. This sense of empathy is the underpinning
of charity. The
most significant impact on our children is what they actually see us
doing as it relates to a giving spirit. As we engage in specific
projects, we can have
conversations with our children regarding why the project is
important and who will benefit.”
Start by expanding their sense of environment, from the immediate
family to their local community and eventually the world around them. A
awareness of something greater than themselves is important in
raising a compassionate individual. This sense of responsibility to
others and the
environment can be supported by teaching empathy and making children
aware of others’ needs whether in visiting a shelter or a food banks
members or simply helping younger siblings.
“From infancy to about 5 years old, children aren’t necessarily
capable of thinking outside of themselves. Even so, parents need to
foster their child’s
sharing with others,” says Winchell. As children grow older they can
begin volunteering and supporting community projects more directly.
donate toys to a children’s shelter or simply participate in a
charity walk, these years are important for a child to learn the art of
giving back. When
they become teenagers, they can do even more for the community by
assisting an elderly neighbor with his yard work or helping out at a
local food bank or
Additionally, it is important to convey the message that “giving
back” does not include an expectation of getting something in return.
the sense of joy in being able to make someone happy and how those
feelings are the greater gift.
“When a child experiences sharing and the serving of others, an
internal sense of contentment and self-worth is experienced,” says
self-enhancement and sense of belonging is coincident with their
giving and results in a benefit that cannot be gained any other way.
This sense of
happiness and accomplishment then contributes to their positive
sense of self.”
In other words, setting an example by teaching kids to give back is
one of the best things a parent can do for the community and the child.
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