Charity starts at home
How do we teach our children the importance of giving back?
As parents, we all want to raise our children to be well-rounded, empathetic and caring individuals, who strive to make our world a better place. So, what better time to teach them about the importance of charity than during winter, when for some life can get a lot more difficult – but how do we go about it?
Firstly it needs to be a cause they can intimately relate to and get actively involved in. Financial donations are the most impactful for children when it comes from their own hard-earned cash. If you give your children pocket money for completing chores, make sure to encourage them to organise their money using the three-jar system: save, spend and share. For their share jar, help them find a charitable cause that means something to them, and that they actively want to help. Animal lovers will get great joy out of helping the World Wildlife Fund, for example, or even a local animal sanctuary. Those with aspirations to be doctors may want to help local hospices or donate their money to the
NHS charities. But whoever they decide to donate their money to, try to make sure they get to see their money being handed over, in order to help their understanding of where the money is going.
A much more tangible way for children to understand being charitable is for them to give something of theirs away. With the lead up to Christmas well underway, and with plenty of new toys likely to be arriving on December 25, why not encourage your children to donate the toys they no longer play with to a local children’s hospice or charity shop? Another great cause at this time of year is The Samaritan’s Christmas Child Appeal. This is when people pack shoeboxes with toys, hygiene products and treats, then wrap and send them to less fortunate children around the world. But giving away toys can be a very hard thing for a child to do, so speak to them about how much a child in a less fortunate situation may really appreciate this kind gesture.
A more local approach is to look to help someone in your own community. Do you have a neighbour who could use extra help? Letting your children offer to water their garden on an evening, take their bins out for them, or even take them some home baked cookies or buns, to let them know you are there if they need you, can go a long way. These are all charitable acts that children can feel very proud of, and will help their understanding of how putting others first can in turn help them feel good too.
If your child has some leadership qualities, why not speak to their teacher about allowing them to lead their class in a charitable project? Making festive decorations for a local care home or paediatric ward is a great charitable act, while also being fun and creative too.
However you choose to encourage your children to be charitable, try to make sure it is fun for them and not a chore. That way it will be something they will, hopefully, choose to do again and again going forward into adulthood.
‘Encourage your children to donate the toys they no longer play with to a local children’s hospice’