Giving to others. It’s the opposite of greed and selfishness, and deep down, every parent or caregiver wants their child to have a generous heart. How, though do you raise a generous child? What exactly does it require?
Getting kids to be generous is a lot about being aware. For starters, kids have to be aware of how much they can give. They should know their own budgets well enough to see the point where giving will start to hurt. That means you have to walk your child through basics like tracking receipts and determining what income will be available. Do this often enough so that it feels normal and becomes a habit.
Kids also have to be aware of the needs others have. With this awareness, kids can look at their funds or goods and match their giving to the most appropriate or deserving recipient. To get your kids looking at what others need, you of course need to get them in contact with people who need. This doesn’t mean you have to take a visit to the slums or go to a soup kitchen (not horrible ideas). It just means you have to point out people who are lacking in some way. Even something as simple as pointing out that your child has three candy bars when another child has zero works.
Generosity also requires your children to be aware of the difference between a want and a need. When a child understands that these two things are not the same, it is easier for him to prioritize his own funds or material possessions. It’s then easier for him to see what he can give up and how he can be of most help in donating to others.
Kids are like sponges. They absorb information like crazy, and that information translates into particular behaviors. When your child sees you being generous, he gets the message that giving is a good thing to do and that it is worth taking time for. He also learns that giving is normal and not something to sweep under the rug. If you want your child to give to others, make it a habit to give yourself.
Even if kids know when and how much to give and understand that giving should be standard, they won’t get far if they have no chance to donate. For instance, your child might not be able to donate to his favorite charity if you won’t take him to the bank to withdraw some money from his savings account. Give your children the opportunities they need to get goods or money where they want.
To be generous, a child needs to have something in excess. The excess could be funds, but it could be toys, candy, clothes or any other number of things, too. Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to give your child more than you normally would. Instead, it means that you have to teach him how to be frugal. Frugality means your child is able to see the best deal for his money, not that he isn’t willing to spend. By teaching your child how to be frugal, you make it more likely that he’ll stretch his funds or goods further. That, in turn, means he can give larger amounts or that he can be generous more often.