5 tips to help your children be charitable in the New Year
In the age of YouTube unboxing videos, it’s very easy for our kids to get caught up in the mentality of wanting more, more, more. A big part of being a good global citizen is about understanding kindness and charitable giving… and it’s our job as parents to teach this to our kids. The New Year is a time of fresh beginnings when we are all reflecting on the past year and planning for a brighter future. What better time to start teaching your kids to be more charitable than while you are in the midst of your reflection and planning. Here are five simple tips to help encourage the spirit of charity in your kids in the New Year.
Start at home
Giving always starts at home… and especially so when it comes to kids. The younger they are, the smaller their world is. After Christmas is the perfect time to start teaching kids about being charitable, although you can follow this process at any time of the year. Rather than buying new storage shelves to accommodate all of their Christmas gifts, ask your kids to choose the things that they no longer play with or wear that can go to children who are less fortunate than them. You could go through this culling process yourself while the kids are out of the house, but when you involve the kids it has a few benefits: empowering them in the process of decluttering so they feel some level of control over their possessions educating them about their privileged position in the world and how to reach out a hand to those who need it encouraging them to think about others outside of their own circle of family and friends to the world beyond them Your cupboards will be lighter and your hearts will be fuller knowing that your toys and clothes are going to families who really need them.
Role model giving
Kids learn every day by watching how we behave. If you don’t make your bed, there is every chance they won’t make their own bed when you ask them to… why would they? It’s the same with any behaviour - if you want to encourage your kids to do something, show them how it’s done. It could be starting the process of culling their toys and clothes, by going through your own wardrobe and bookshelves first. Or you might make a big batch of soup to take down to your local soup kitchen or when you are doing your grocery shopping, pop a few extra toiletries in the trolley to give to a women’s shelter. It could be as simple as offering a few minutes of your time and some kind words to someone in need. If you role model the behaviour, you will soon see your kids following suit. Encourage random acts of kindness Not every charitable act needs to be a big grand gesture. Sometimes charity can be as simple as spreading kindness… and for kids that is something that they can easily do that will plant the seeds of a mindset of giving for life. You might be surprised at the ideas your kids come up with when you start speaking to them about random acts of kindness but here are a few to start your thinking:
- Rake your neighbour’s leaves while they are out or leave a batch of homemade cookies with a little note on their doorstep
- Pay for another family’s lunch or coffee while you are out at a cafe
- Hold the door open for someone
- Leave a thank you note and a snack for your postie
- Decorate rocks and leave them at the park for other kids to find Leave a letter in a library book for the next child who borrows the book
- Smile at everyone you see
Encourage your kids to do random acts of kindness consistently and it will become a part of who they are as they get older.
Visit a local nursing home
Sadly, there are many elderly people in nursing homes who don’t have family around them. And if there is one thing that is sure to brighten up a group of old people, it is a visit from young children, even if they aren’t their own grandchildren. There is so much that our senior citizens can teach our kids, and so much that our kids can give our senior citizens. Many people think to visit nursing homes before Christmas to deliver gifts to the residents but that doesn’t always continue into the New Year so you could really be brightening their day! Before you go, call ahead to check with the nursing home if you are allowed to go and the best time to visit so you avoid mealtimes etc.
Choose a family charity
There are so many causes you could potentially donate your time and resources to so how do you choose which one? This is where having a family charity helps in giving you direction and a purpose. As a family, sit down and talk about your values and the difference that you want to make in the world. If you are passionate about animals, you could choose a local animal shelter and donate old towels and volunteer your time to help feed the animals. Or you might decide you want to help sick children by collecting colouring-in books to give to the children’s hospital. If your kids have grown up beyond the baby stage, you might consider donating their baby capsules and strollers to a charity that supports families in need. There is no shortage of charities that need support… it’s about determining what you as a family can make the biggest difference to and directing your energy towards that. Whether you only volunteer at the charity once or go back regularly, uniting as a family to support a cause will teach your kids a valuable lesson. Whatever you do to help your children be charitable now, you are setting them up with a worldview that extends far beyond their own little circle to make the world a better place.