If you’re a philanthropist yourself—no matter the amount or size of your gifts—you probably want your children to follow in your footsteps and learn the values of generosity and kindness to other living beings. But sometimes it seems like there’s so much distraction, you don’t know if your hopes are falling on deaf ears. Here are some tips to raise your kids to be philanthropists, too.
It’s a given that a little kid will listen to you and model your behavior a lot more than a teenager will, so make sure you start early with lessons of philanthropy. Encourage them to save aside a little bit of their allowance, or tooth fairy money, or birthday cash gifts, for doing good for others.
Set a good example
Children learn what they live, as the old saying goes. Lots of research has shown that if parents are charitable, kids are more likely to be charitable as well. Show your kids the joy of giving, and show them there are all kinds of ways to give. They don’t necessarily have to give money, for example; they could learn the benefits of volunteering their time. Even something as simple as calling a friend who’s feeling down can be a time to set an example.
Kids believe what adults value, so prioritize generosity and philanthropy in your family talks. Make sure your children know that you expect them to care about others just as much as you expect them to do their best in school, for example. You can even display photos of your kids doing thoughtful things like volunteering or donating gently used toys to kids in need.
Whenever you see your child acting with kindness, say so and thank them for being kind or helping out. The more children get praised for a virtue, the more likely they’ll be to continue acting with that virtue.
Use real events as a teaching opportunity
If, for example, a family in your community had a house fire and lost everything, help your kids collect items to give to that family to help them rebuild their lives. You can even use bad news as a tool to get kids thinking about solutions instead of just complaining about the problems.
Help them see their impact
Kids are more likely to become even more helpful if they see that their help is making a difference. You can help your children think about a volunteer experience, for example, and teach them to have compassion by encouraging them to think about the people or animals they helped.
What other tips do you have for raising philanthropic kids? Please share your thoughts in the comments.