Teaching children about being considerate of others teaches them important life lessons.
While charity may seem like a hard concept to teach, kids are philanthropic. Nine out of 10 children, ages eight to 19, give money to charity, according to a recent study
. It found that “children whose parents talk to them about giving are 20 percent more likely to give than those whose parents don’t give,” reported the Chronicle of Philanthropy
“Emphasizing gratitude is a good thing for children’s mental health as well as a good way to prepare them for being good citizens throughout their lives,” said Children's National psychologist Eleanor Mackey, PhD
Teaching by example is a great way to teach gratitude
, according to Mackey. Demonstrate to your children that giving is a priority. Discuss personal philanthropic values, share information about charities, and talk about how a donation will be used (i.e., giving money or nonperishable food items to a food pantry to help someone have something in their stomach).
The study found that the “people who talk to their children about charitable giving significantly increase the likelihood that those children will give to charity,” according to a news release from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute
. “That finding holds true regardless of the child’s sex, age, race, and family income. … The study also found that girls and boys are equally likely to make monetary gifts to charity; however, girls are more likely than boys to volunteer, a pattern that continues in adulthood.”
Researchers found that parents talking to children about their own practices and values was more effective than just role-modeling alone.
Mackey also suggested asking your children to pick a piece of clothing or a toy they don’t use anymore to give to donate to a child who has little to no toys or clothing.
Another way to instill compassion in kids is to involve them in programs that help other children or community service projects that match their abilities and interests such as an issue at their school (i.e., affordable lunches for low-income peers or art supplies for a classroom), a charity walk, or a group started by children. Or, donate items to Dr. Bear’s Closet
or Children National’s wish list
, volunteer or contribute to the Children’s Hospital Foundation