Young children are innately compassionate and exuberantly helpful. You can easily nurture these qualities by giving your children opportunities to be of service to others through charitable activities. Children as young as 3 years old can begin to understand that there are people and animals who could use some extra help to make their lives better. Participating in charity help with kids will teach your children about the three ways of helping others, (1) by giving time, (2) giving money or (3) passing along previously loved belongings. This will help you foster empathy and compassion that will guide your little ones as they grow up.
Giving Belongings a New Purpose
One of the easiest and earliest lessons to give your children is the idea of passing on items they no longer use. Children are able to understand how lucky they are to have a lot of toys, books and clothes, and that as they get older they outgrow them. Items that still have a lot of life in them can be given directly to people who could use them, or donated to organizations that sell the items and use the money to help others.
A good time to practice giving is around the holidays and birthdays. Help your child go through his room and choose some items he is willing to part with. You could also set up a large box to build a collection of items to give away and have your child add to the box as he discovers items he no longer needs or wants.
Take your child with you to donate what he has contributed and explain who will benefit from his donation. You might give household goods to your local Goodwill, but take clothes and toys to a women’s shelter. The next time you donate items, perhaps find a literacy program that accepts gently used books, or donate your items to a youth group’s garage sale to raise money for a trip. Let your child help choose the organization, and let him interact with the people receiving the items.
Giving Time and Energy
Let children unleash their boundless energy and help a good cause. Participate in a fun run that benefits cancer research. Volunteer at your church, or contact a food bank or soup kitchen that would allow your child to volunteer with you. Some retirement homes offer programs to do crafts with its residents, or an animal shelter may accept help from children. Participate in a park clean-up day, or help serve meals at a public holiday feast. There are many opportunities available in your community.
As children grow, follow their interests and tie them into a service project. If they love to read, help them run a book drive. If they are concerned about the homeless, take your child shopping for food items and toiletries and make goody bags to distribute when you are driving around town. Crafty kids may want to make cat toys to donate to the animal shelter, or sell homemade items and give the proceeds to a favorite charity.
If you give your child an allowance, you may want to have him set up a savings system using three containers – one for Savings, one for Spending, and one for Giving. Let your child decide how much money to add to each container when he receives his allowance.
When he’s built up his Giving fund, help him decide how he will use his money. One idea is to have him help you find an organization to donate to. You might even consider matching his donation. A fun way for a child to donate money is to adopt an animal at your local zoo.
When a tragedy such as a natural disaster strikes, while it may not be appropriate to show young children media footage of the event, you may want to give him a broad explanation of what happened and offer him an opportunity to donate money to the cause.
There are numerous ways to teach your children about giving time, money or items to charities and causes. Let your children see you doing philanthropic deeds and donating to organizations that are important to you. Have discussions about the importance of helping others and how good it makes you feel. Participation in these activities will help your children grow into caring, compassionate adults who will continue to give and help others.