Some people have the opinion that children are greedy and ungrateful, but that isn’t true. Your child likely has a caring heart and like any skill, can be taught to be philanthropic. Perhaps you’re starting them off with money jars for their allowance or leading by example. Or maybe you’re making it fun and personal. Regardless of the “how,” you can teach your child how to give.
Read on to learn how to raise a philanthropic child who willingly and happily gives of their time and money to those less fortunate. Charitable giving is an important part of our communities, and even children can learn how to give to others.
Teaching your child how to handle money is an important skill that will affect her future. Financial literacy for kids should start at an early age, around the time your child can count. Use real money and begin with basic concepts, like coins and bills.
When your child receives money, teach them to divide it between three buckets: one for saving, one for spending, and one for sharing. You’ll want to help your child set specific goals for each category. Perhaps they want to save for a new toy, spend money on a treat, or give to the church. Help your child prioritize how much money goes into each jar.
Your child should also keep a simple record of how much money is in each jar. This can be done on paper, or if you introduce a banking app, they can see the numbers grow online. This not only helps them see their progress, but also teaches them the importance of tracking finances. Regularly sit down with your child to review their choices and adjust their goals, if needed.
Your child is watching and learning from your behavior, even if you don’t think they are. From the playful toddler to the indifferent teen, your child will notice if you are donating your time or money. Make giving a family affair, from choosing a charity to donating time together.
That said, according to a recent study by Indiana University, simply role modeling charitable behavior is not enough. It’s necessary to also discuss the importance of giving in order to most effectively teach your child about philanthropy.
So, take the time to intentionally talk to your child about charitable giving. Be sure to explain your own values and opinions on donating to those in need. Your child will be more likely to follow in your footsteps if they fully understand your reasons for being charitable.
A younger child may need help picking out a charity to support. You can suggest options that are within their range of interests. Does your son like to draw? Encourage him to donate to the arts. Does your daughter enjoy building toys, like Lego? Help her donate to an engineering charity. Perhaps she likes to help with dinner preparation. If that’s the case, choose a local soup kitchen or food pantry to support.
A teenager may rebel against the family’s choices in charities. For example, maybe your daughter is passionate about environmental issues, but your family prefers supporting local schools. In this case, it’s important to acknowledge her interests and guide her towards a charity aligned with her passion.
Initially, your child may only see a need to help charities that benefit them in some way. Like, your son may choose to donate to the animal adoption center where you got your kitten. But with time, they’ll begin to understand that they receive joy from giving — even if they don’t benefit from the organization’s services.
In addition to allowing your child to choose where to donate, you should take steps to make philanthropy personal. For instance, make a donation in your child’s name. This is especially important if it’s their money.
Instead of sending a virtual payment online or mailing a check, try hand-delivering your child’s donation. Let them see that there is a real person behind the organization, someone who is thankful for the donation. This will help them grasp the importance of giving.
Make a big deal out of delivering her donation. Dress up. Take pictures and print them for her to have as a keepsake. Encourage her to write a letter to the charity explaining why she chose the organization. These steps will help her see the fun and personal side of donating.
Beyond financial donations, you can teach your child how to be philanthropic by donating toys, clothes, and other gently used items. Remind your child how they don’t use the item anymore, and how some other child may get enjoyment from it.
Your child may also enjoy shopping for items for a local food bank or charity. Make a list of what the organization frequently requests. Look on their website or call them to find out anything that they may be in dire need of. Then take a trip together with your child to a nearby store to select the items. If something has variations, such as color, let your child choose the one she’d like to get. Then hand-deliver it to the charity.
Allowing your child to buy items or donate their own toys helps them understand how someone else can benefit from their generosity. It can also make the process fun, which is a win-win.
Children learn from discussing, modeling others, and doing things on their own. Teaching your child how to happily give is important for the future, but make it fun and personal. Let them donate their own unwanted toys. Teach the money jar method of donating. Do these things, and you’ll be well on your way to raising a philanthropic child. Your child will learn to love donating and find joy in helping others.