We spoke to a couple of moms to find out how they talk to their kids about charity, and include giving in family life. Here’s the advice they shared with us:
How did you introduce the concept of charitable giving to your kids?
Taslim: The first formal charitable giving project we did in our home was when our oldest was just under 3 years old, and our son was just born. My mom used to collect pennies in this big glass bottle and after she passed away, we continued to fill it. My daughter helped us roll the pennies and we wrote out a cheque for Pennies for Peace – an initiative to fund girls’ schools in Central Asia. She received a certificate thanking her for her help, which we framed and put up in her room – it’s still there 4 years later!
Kah-Mei: We’ve always tried to teach the kids to be grateful for everything they have. On the news and on TV, they see kids who are starving in third-world countries; they see children having to walk miles to fetch water, or not being able to attend school. So we encourage gratitude for the basic things we have because there are so many children in the world who do not have those basics. We have also sponsored a child from World Vision for almost 20 years.
Is there an approach that makes understanding charity easier for kids?
Taslim: I think that even when the abstract understanding isn’t there, it’s important to model these values so when your child is old enough to understand, it’s not a big shock to their lifestyle. If they have grown up always putting aside some of their allowance for charity, or choosing items in a grocery store to donate to the food bank, they will think nothing of it at any age. The younger you start, the more it becomes just a part of who they are.
Kah-Mei: It helps them to see that the money they were going to spend on a new iPod could help fund a child’s schooling for a year. They still want the iPod, but at least they are thinking of others. Even if they decide to give a portion of the money saved for a new iPod to charity, they have learned to put off getting something new for themselves, and think of others first. The older they get the easier it is for them to understand and to be more empathetic
What tips would you give parents who would like to introduce charity to their children, but aren’t sure how?
Taslim: Some people only discuss giving with their children around the holidays – don’t make charity just a one-time thing! Imagine how shocking it is when 11 months out of the 12 they aren’t expected to think outside their own world, and then during the month that highlights all the fun things they have come to equate with the holidays, they suddenly have to think of the people who don’t have what they do. Make charity a way of life!
Kah-Mei: Don’t be afraid to expose your children to the reality of poverty or need. Travel often, especially to other countries so they see for themselves the difference between want and need. Talk about it all year long. We also teach our kids to tithe to our church and explain what it’s used for. Even passing down toys and clothing is a small step toward learning how to help others.
Here at Charitable Impact, we believe it’s never too early to start teaching kids about charity. Giving charitably as a family can show children how great it feels to give, and empower them to make a positive difference in the world.
How do you involve your children in charitable giving? We’d love to hear from you! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.