Developmentally, it’s no surprise that kids focus on themselves a lot. Young brains don’t have the tools to consider other experiences quite like an adult brain does, but they get better at this with age. Granted, empathy doesn’t pop up out of nowhere as kids get older—it isn’t an eventuality. Improvement with age comes from a parent or guardian who guides their empathy. If you have kids and want to know how to encourage the spirit of giving in your children, these three tips will help.
Make Sure They See You Give
Modeling good, giving behavior is the first big step. The befuddling thing about kids is that you can’t trick them by faking your own desire to help people. If, when you take your children somewhere to deliver donations, all they see is you hurrying the process along so you can get home, that isn’t good modeling. Check your priorities and be open to your own growth as a person as you try to teach your child. Then, you can give from the heart and show them how to do the same. Their desire to mimic you and fit into the culture of giving that you’ve established is strong and is sure to develop their character.
Have Them Give Sacrificially
The next way to encourage the giving spirit in your children is to convince them to give sacrificially. Here’s the reason: if your kids only give when it’s convenient for them, their focus is foremost on themselves instead of others. While generosity doesn’t require complete disregard for your own needs, it should encourage you to place others before yourself.
Practice this with your children. When you hear of a family without much to their name, encourage your kids to pick one of their toys to give away to them, making sure they give generously. Though there may be tears at this suggestion, it will teach your children that their stuff isn’t only meant for them, but that they can be an instrument for another’s happiness as well. Also, given that it’s often easier to give away new toys, maybe your kids can buy wholesale kids toys with their own money for kids in need instead.
Make a Big Deal Out of Their Own Spontaneous Desire To Give
You want to reward your kids for their sacrificial giving in order for it to stick. While you don’t want them doing something good only to receive this reward, you do want to reinforce their generosity. The first times you teach your child to give, reward them with a lot of praise. Make sure they know that their parents are super proud of them.
Then, at their first sign of spontaneous generosity, make a big deal out of their request. Plan a party, smother them with attention, or get them a big gift—anything that’ll get across how proud you are of them for choosing to focus on another person’s need. This reinforcement will set the stage for a life of doing good.