teach children to give

Earlier this month, eight-year-old Anton made his holiday wish list. “A mini basketball,” he writes cautiously. “And a diamond necklace that spells out ‘legend'”. with our community. So! I spoke to three wonderful parents / experts, and here is what they said …

1. Giving can start small.
Children can start by being kind and generous to the people around them. “There are so many ways to give,” says my friend E., a parent of two boys in Manhattan. “You can think of climate change that’s macro, or that kid sitting alone on the bus, that’s immediate.” More ideas: keep your neighbors’ dog if they leave town; jump to clear the dinner table at a relative’s house; carry your grandmother’s suitcase into the bedroom when she visits her; invite the new kid to school to play in the park.

2. Consider volunteering with local organizations.
If you don’t know where to start, visit JustServe for volunteer projects. Whether you are religious or not, another way to find volunteer opportunities is through churches. For example, Hope for New York explains how to help in different ways, so that you can choose a cause that you support. There is also a newsletter called Doing Good Together with options to help as a family.

Recommends L., a Brooklyn-based parent of three: “At CHIPS, you can drop off prepackaged meals the kids can help put together. Ruth’s Refuge is a non-profit organization for refugees with in-person home settlements, recurring trips and, in general, the BEST women. And the Arab American Family Support Center offers a variety of ways to help face-to-face, including mentoring an English learner – many women never get the opportunity to learn the language. English like their husbands learning at work or children learning at school which can leave them isolated and unable to defend themselves, their families etc. (Readers, please add more ideas in the comments!)

3. Be invisible hands.
Emphasize to your children that volunteering is a way of being part of their community, as opposed to an extracurricular activity created for them. “I tell my kids, ‘Let’s be invisible hands,’” says E. “When we volunteer, we’re only here to do whatever we can. Sometimes it’s just a matter of collapsing boxes for two hours. And keep participating, learning and growing. “Service is a skill that you practice and build on, like building a habit,” explains L.

4. Find causes that you find particularly significant.
Think about the issues that are close to your heart and that are close to your heart. “During the pandemic, my sons would hear about Asian hatred and attacks on the elderly,” says E. His family is linked to Heart of Dinner, which provides health care packages and food for the elderly in Asia. from the East to New York. They have opportunities for volunteers of all ages to decorate bags and write cards for their clients.

As a family, you can also choose a few issues to focus on each year. “This year our family focused on food insecurity and donated to our local community refrigerator,” said activist and mother Brooke Williams. “It’s a lot of the neighbors who help the neighbors. “

5. Consider the special skills of your children.
My boys love nothing more than running lemonade stands – Toby in particular is such a salesman! – they therefore organized bake sales to raise funds for causes such as the ACLU, RAICES and ocean cleaning. Other children might be art oriented. “My youngest son loves making little cards for everyone he knows,” E. says, and during his forties she helped him channel that enthusiasm into helping others. “We thought about how our older neighbors might be unable to go out. Is there a way to cheer them up? We made cards for those who receive meals from God’s Love We Deliver and the residents of Bailey-Holt House. Their notes really touched me.

6. Seek out the helpers.
Remember how Fred Rogers’ mother told him to seek help? Showing children how people are working to make the world a better place can help them feel reassured and encouraged. “Kids know the world is pretty broken up; they’re not naive, ”says E.“ I tell my boys, ‘You see, all around town there are these little havens, and people doing the work and using their creativity, their imaginations and their skills, to help lighten someone’s burden a bit? Being able to show my kids that there are people who get up at 7 a.m. every Saturday and fry eggs, or hand out hot meals in the freezing cold … it’s heartening to see people all over the place. city ​​come together, and we can join, in small ways.

7. Encourage children to donate, even a small amount.
Even the youngest children can donate part of their allowance or birthday money to causes they care about. When looking for organizations, consider turning to the Charity Navigator website, which rates thousands of charities. Additionally, my friend Scott Thomas runs Arbor Brothers, which controls nonprofits doing service work in and around New York City. They publish a kid-friendly guide every year, which I have found extremely helpful.

You can also include your children if you are able to donate money as a family. “Each December, we sit down and set a budget for a certain amount that we’ll donate to the organizations we care about,” says Brooke. “Each of us receives an equal amount, including our daughter. We choose each of the organizations and discuss together why we think they are important.

8. Treat everyone around you with love.
Most importantly, show your children how to spread kindness throughout the day. “This morning we showed up at a COVID testing site,” says Brooke. “This poor, besieged guy is sitting behind the counter, and everyone’s in a bad mood. Just being human for him – a smile, an extra thank you, wishing him happy holidays – all of a sudden his whole face changes. As we spread these tiny crystals of positivity, the world gets better. “

This thoughtful approach also applies to volunteering. In the pantry where the family of E. volunteers, the pastor gives a team conference each morning. “She reminds us of always, always showing love in the simplest things, even if you’re just leading someone through a line or unwrapping applesauce,” explains E. “Remember that you never know what people are going through. So express your love in the way you hand someone a plate or open trash bags to make it easier for the next person. People can feel that love “We’re all in a community together. We all need help in different ways. Everyone who passes by is our neighbors. I hope my children will remember that. Serve people with honor.”

How do you teach your children to give and to help? Don’t hesitate to start small, says Brooke, “Because if everyone does a little bit, a lot gets done. “

PS How to Raise Kind Children, and 12 reader reviews on Kindness.

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