Charity and the spirit of giving are essential lessons for children to learn, and they are never too young to start. Children are seldom aware of the difficult situations that people find themselves in, unless you as the parent create that awareness. As much as we like to shelter our children from the harsh realities that surround them, there are lessons that they can learn from other people’s situations and difficulties, and more importantly, from being charitable in times of need.
It’s okay to say goodbye
Children are often hesitant to give to charity as it often involves giving their stuff away and they may not feel they are ready to do that. Sharing is difficult at the best of times and giving stuff away is not any easier. Try to be patient with your child and work through what they are feeling – you don’t want to make giving to charity a negative issue.
Giving your child a reason to give stuff away will make the separation from their things easier. Consider clearing out cupboards and toy boxes before a birthday or Christmas. If they feel they are merely -making space for new toys, they will be less likely to be reluctant in choosing toys they no longer play with.
One of the best ways of ensuring your child does not feel any loss when they say goodbye to their toys and clothes is to allow them to accompany you to the charity to witness the joy and excitement of the person on the receiving end of the toys and clothes. If your child knows that someone else is going to love the item as much as they did, they will find it a lot easier to say goodbye.
If your child is adamant they do not want to give away a certain toy or piece of clothing – do not force the issue. Some items may have an emotional attachment to them and your child will resent both you and the charity if they are forced to let it go. It may help to suggest that if they find they don’t use the item over the next few months, they can choose to donate it next time. Keep the act of giving a positive one that encourages your child rather than causing fear and resentment.
Giving as a family
In today’s economy most of us are finding it more difficult to maintain the lifestyle that we are used to, and often forget that there are those who the economy has affected even more. However, the small effort that one family can make can have a huge effect on others.
One of the best ways to teach your child to be charitable is to give as a family. There are a vast number of charities available where you can volunteer time, donate food and donate clothes, which you as a family can choose.
Get the children involved by letting your children help you choose which charity to work with and what they would like to do to help. Get the younger ones involved in sorting out clothing to donate – especially since their clothing is more likely to be the majority as they grow so quickly.
Consider volunteering your time if you have older children, where you can volunteer at animal shelters or homeless shelters as a family.
Being able to help someone in need as a family will both teach your children valuable lessons and give you a chance to build a unique relationship with each other. Your children will also be more inclined to want to volunteer or donate if they see you doing it and enjoying it.
Charity begins at home
Our children learn from what they see and our actions are one of the best teachers – particularly when it comes to charity. One of the best ways to teach your child charity at home is to get them involved in the home and local neighbourhood. This can mean encouraging them to help out around the house with some chores, taking care of or helping a sibling or simply being helpful and polite around the house.
Charity at home can also include the neighbour, and your child may find it rewarding to help an elderly or disabled neighbour.
There is great value in learning charity at home and in your local areas and your child will benefit from being involved in the community and playing a part in society.