Photo credit: Allison Waken of All for the Boys
Recently I have had many conversations with parents around the idea of teaching our children to be givers. The reason it is such a hot topic seems to be stemming from two places. First, all parents want their children to know the importance of giving and compassion. Second, in a world of instant gratification, endless electronic distractions and the constant need for more, teaching our children to be grateful for what they have can be a challenge. Often parents look to giving back as a way to show their children the gifts they have in comparison with others.
Whatever the root reason is, teaching our children to give to others is important for them as well as our community. Every day my little one grows I have been contemplating what values I want to instill which immediately leads to a pondering of how I will do this. It can seem like a daunting task to inspire giving but with the help of many conversations and some exploring, I have found some great techniques that are quick and easy!
- Click-to-Give – One of the easiest ways to give back, adults and children alike, are Click-to-Donate sites. The concept is simple – click a button every day and sponsors give money to the cause. This costs nothing but a couple minutes and doing so with our children can open up a conversation of where the money is going and how it will help people. One site I would recommend is Greater Good where there are tabs for everything from Hunger to Autism. Another great site is care2.com where you can actually create an account and track your total impact. This is a great way to help your child see how they are helping to give back to various causes (you can even make a family competition out of it!).
- Buy to Give – There are so many sites online now where you can purchase unique items that support a good cause. Shopping through these sites, whether it is for yourself or a gift for someone, can open up a great conversation with your children. Sites like Greater Good give a portion of the purchase to the cause. Other sites I love are The Cross Culture Market, Toms Marketplace, and UNICEF.
- Donation Jar – Take any old container or jar and start a Donation Jar. You can add loose change after shopping trips, encourage your child to donate a portion of their allowance or give them some household tasks to do to get money to put into the jar. It works great to either choose the cause ahead of time and save up to donate or once the jar is full research where you want the money to go. You can do something local or sites like Save the Children that allow you to actually purchase an item for an underprivileged family. Another option is to save throughout the month to sponsor a child through sites like Children International where your children can actually correspond with the person they are helping. You and your child will be amazed how quickly loose change and add up to help others!
- Volunteering – Making the time to volunteer together is a great way to have a family outing. Whether it is putting together food boxes at a food bank, giving out toys during the holiday or participating in a Walk/Run, a couple hours can leave a lasting impression with your child. If you aren’t sure what is out there, VolunteerMatch is an easy way to search local opportunities. I would also recommend Valley of the Sun United Way and Mary’s Food Bank as two places that always have events or are looking for volunteers.
- Give old stuff – I have seen families do this in several ways. Some do an annual or bi-annual collection where everyone goes through all their old items and donates what they no longer use. Some do a garage sale first then donate what doesn’t sell. Others have a policy that when something new comes in (clothes, toys, etc.), something has to go. To do this you can simply put a box in the garage and once it is full you bring it to donate. There are collection bins in most parking lots or you can find an organization or thrift shop you want to give to. Some local ones I like to donate to is Vincent de Paul and Boxer Luv Rescue. Whether a few times a year everyone gathers items around the house or you adopt a “when something comes in, something goes out” strategy, having your children learn the value of clearing clutter while giving to those in needs is one of the best ways to build a lifelong habit of giving.
Whether you adopt one of these strategies or simply be an example by always helping those around you, instilling the desire to give back is a priceless lesson to give your children.