“No act of kindness however small is wasted.” – Aesop. Most adults understand the joy of giving. We want to share this joy and happiness with our children too. How to teach children the joy of giving? More importantly, how to sow the seeds of charity in our toddler’s mind? Toddlers and small children are self-centered ( as designed by nature). They understand mine and me. It is important that we help them understand the meaning of we and us as well. It is difficult to get them to start donating or charity right at this time. But whatever we sow in the minds of children during toddler years, reaps into something really beautiful. It is a very gradual and subtle process that you need to continue doing regularly in front of your children for them to pick up on this great act of kindness.
How To Teach Children Joy Of Giving
Kind children come from kind families
It is very important for children to have happy, kind, and stress-free homes. Children learn what they see around the house. You may be wondering if only what you say in front of your children matters. No, everything you do matters. How you behave around the house. Children are observing how you interact with others around you, your house help, or any community workers, etc. So to teach children the joy of giving very important aspects is to build a warm, kind, and happy family. Setting boundaries, limits are equally important while being happy.
Make Gifts and Goodies For Neighbours
In the initial days of nurturing the joy of giving, your toddler can relate to people he knows easily. The strangers may not seem to be very important to give them stuff or any donations. So start by making gifts and goody bags for neighbors the child is accustomed to. Let your child pick a gift for his friend on his birthday and let him give it to him. What happens when you do this? Children might feel the joy of giving by looking at the friend’s happy face.
Get your little one to make a card for his friend on special occasions. Here, in India, we treat our neighbors and community helpers around us by giving them special food cooked for the occasion. I make sure to get my little one’s help while doing this. The smallest act of him giving the food to the people makes him happy.
Slowly introduce the giving to a bigger circle to people he doesn’t know and remind him that we are helping them.
Make it a ritual to teach children act of giving
Special kinds of rituals and traditions work best with children. Associate special occasions with charity or giving. On birthdays we would visit orphanages and celebrate with the children there. We would bring goody bags for all the kids there. The goody bags are visually appealing to children and toddlers. In the background, we used to donate blankets and necessary items.
Make Special Gifts For Family Members At Home
Giving or sharing what we have with others originates from our hearts. For whom does a toddler’s heart go out to first? Family and everyday people he loves interacting with. Make and create special gifts for the family right from scratch with the children. This is an amazing and creative way to teach children the joy of giving. As they say “Charity begins at home”.
Ask your child before you share something that belongs to him
It is important to teach children the joy of giving, but it is equally important to understand your child’s feelings when it comes to this. You can always tell children the reason behind donations and charity. Some kids are not as opportune as us. We can donate them your old toys so they can have something to play with. However, as a parent, it is crucial that you see if the child is sentimentally attached to something before you give it away. It is a good idea to ask the child his feelings about sharing something or giving something away. When you protect your child’s interest, you are showing them that they are important too. Pretty soon, you will have a thriving, caring, and individual who is kind and loves charity.
Expect slow and minimal visible changes in your toddler
Nature has designed a toddler to be self-centered and expecting them to be any different might be trying is cruel. That is how they are developing their individuality. However, as parents, you can keep giving and donating regularly and try to inculcate and teach children the act of giving without expecting to see it immediately replicate in children. Seeds you sow and nurture now will bear fruits later in their life.
Give old clothes and toys to children in need
Plan a special time with your child to sort clothes that don’t fit anymore and to remove old toys that are not being used anymore. Tell children how some kids are not lucky enough to have minimum clothes and any toy to play with. Ask them would you like to share something that doesn’t fit them anymore. I might take a leap and think most children will be okay with giving away old clothes, but there might be a little resistance towards giving away toys. It is okay to keep them for the next occasions and give the clothes that the child has agreed to someone in need. Let your child be your companion in such tasks, let him see how happy it makes someone. Soon your child might opt to give away something he does not need anymore.
Give Happily to teach children the joy of giving
When you give something, you need to give it happily for it to be filled with positive energy. Even if it pains you to give away something, it is the right thing to do, so model doing it happily. Your children need to associate happiness, satisfaction, and rewarding feelings to teach them the act of giving.
Connecting to other’s feelings is important to inculcate kindness, empathy in children. A child who is well acknowledged to his feelings can connect to someone else’s feelings a little easier. Remind your child of how he feels when he gets a gift, ask him to imagine that the child he gives away his old toys or clothes will feel the same happiness. Even if your child is not okay with giving or sharing, it is okay. More Importantly, acknowledging the feelings is the first step.
Model sharing in the house
Children observe you throughout your whole day. If you model sharing, they might start sharing. If you model giving, they might be okay with giving too. Hence, the simplest way to teach children the joy of giving or sharing is by modeling that behavior around the house.
Invest your time and energy to teach children act of giving
Yes, it is true that most people will benefit from the money, food, and clothes you can provide. However, it is equally true that some people can really benefit from your time and company as well. Volunteering to help in an old age home, an orphanage, or a pet sanctuary at regular intervals helps them feel a happy connection with the world (that might not be kind to them).
Cooking for someone who just lost someone in the family might be all the help they need when it is difficult for them to come out of grief. Dropping by a new mother to ask her if she needs anything from the supermarket. All these are beautiful acts of giving. Involving your toddler in all such simple tasks will help him understand how spending time is as important as spending money. Watching you do charity leaves a deep impression on your children. Invest your time and energy to teach children the joy of giving
Help by giving to community workers
Helping community workers in any way possible is another best way to teach children the act of giving. Your children, especially toddlers, understand how important community helpers are for society. Giving them occasional home-cooked food is a great act of kindness. It is like paying back for the service they do for everyone.
Do it all around the year
It is crucial that you display giving and charitable year throughout the year and not restrict it to only a few occasions. This can make it seasonal. Seasonal happens only once in a while and we need to inculcate giving as a habit.
Read books that help children understand the joy of giving
Children love reading. There are lots of books available online on sharing and giving. It is an amazing idea to spend time with your child reading about giving. Beautiful and special pictures designed just to teach children the joy of giving.
Everything aside, inculcating the act of giving in children is a very slow and gradual process that happens internally (without visible signs). As parents, you can be happy about charity. Consequently, you might have children growing up filled with benevolence.
“The greatest joy we can receive in life is – giving – to bring into the life of someone else a little joy and happiness.”L. Tom Perry
Another amazing article on “Good Manners Every Parent Must Teach Their Children”.