The Spirit of Giving
Cultivating the spirit of giving in children at an early age is important because it fosters a sense of belonging and self-worth. Very young children want to help. Encouraging them in simple acts of kindness such as bringing mommy a diaper for the new baby or helping daddy wash the car validates their place in the family. So what if their actions are incomplete or imprecise?
Your appreciation for their efforts makes their hearts sing.
Encouraging young children to reach beyond themselves and care for others is essential for healthy social development. Parents want their children to have friends, to learn give and take, to reach beyond themselves. This takes practice. It’s not easy for young children to put others first.
The situations you create for your child to care for others should be real. From little ones carrying a box of tissues to a sick sibling to big kids unloading groceries from the car, each act of kindness should be rewarded with genuine affection.
It’s important to explain to pre-school children why you go to visit a grandparent, or give money to a cause you value. The impression you make on tender young minds is validated by the actions that support your words.
When I hear of a 10 year-old forgoing birthday party presents and requesting contributions for a food bank instead, I know that the parents have thoughtfully developed a caring child who takes real pride in being a contributing member of society. The internal rewards are sustainable and help to develop social beings that can create a better world.