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How to Teach Kids About Giving Back

Mom.com logo Mom.com 11/21/2019 Chaunie Brusie
Children and parent holding hands and playing together with unity and teamwork © Provided by Shutterstock Children and parent holding hands and playing together with unity and teamwork

A note to MSN readers: Would you like to help others this holiday season? Look for the donation button in this article for one way to give back. You can also visit Helping Others This Holiday Season for more ideas on how you can make the holidays brighter for those in need.

Today, my oldest daughter was tasked with choosing an amount of money from her own piggy bank to contribute to our church's funds to send to children in Africa. As she settled on the amount she wanted to give (not an easy task for any kid, let it be said), it spurred a conversation about giving back.

She wanted to know more about how to help people in need — and she was even a little surprised when we discussed how she didn't need to go all the way to Africa to make a big difference. Instead, she could get involved in giving back in big — and small ways — right in our community, too. And it made me feel a little ashamed that we haven't done more as a family to give back together.

I realized that it was time for a major wakeup call on how to teach my kids about giving back. Here are some ideas if you're looking to teach your kids about helping others, too:

Get involved locally

The hard part about giving back isn't necessarily finding opportunities to give back — it's actually putting in the time to do them. Our kids will learn from doing the work of getting involved and maybe, more important, learn from seeing us get involved too.

So explore opportunities in your area. Check with local food banks, churches, nonprofits, schools, homeless shelters, women's shelters, animal shelters, and hospitals for their current needs. You can put together things like hygiene kits, holiday kits, or winter warmth kits and donate them to organizations that will put them to good use.

holding hands © Provided by RockYou Media(mom.me; purpleclover.com) holding hands Be chosen through child sponsorship

One of the ways to give back that my daughter and I discussed was sponsoring a child. I told her how, back before her dad and I had her, we used to sponsor a child together. Her photo hung on our fridge, and we would read the updates she would write us about what she was up to and what she was working on in school. My daughter was fascinated, and we talked about sponsoring a child together as a family.

While sponsoring a child is a wonderful thing to do, you can also get your child involved in the process, but flip the script. Your kid will be the one to be selected by a sponsor child, not the other way around. World Vision allows you to upload a picture and profile, and then a child chooses who they would like to sponsor them. Once you are chosen, you will get updated with photos and letters, and your child can feel proud that they were chosen to be part of his or her life.

Host a fundraiser together

Over the holiday season last year, my daughters and I started a special fundraiser. We sold special ornaments with holiday poems for those who had lost loved ones and donated everything we earned to women who had suffered a pregnancy or infant loss. Something about being involved in the entire process and putting their hands on the packages, helping me mail them, and choosing a recipient really drilled the idea of giving back into their brains.

The fundraiser could be anything — one friend's daughter made special bracelets to raise money for her cousin with a medical condition, another does special events to raise money, and still others simply share the word, but the point is, there are plenty of ways you could give back in a meaningful way by getting your kids involved in the process.

 

Make them bring you a cup of coffee

OK, so maybe this is slightly self-serving, but you can teach your kids about choosing to buy products from companies that will also give back in simple ways — like with your morning cup of coffee. It's a good way to introduce kids to the idea of purchasing power and the fact that they get to decide how their money is used whenever they buy something.

Contributing to coffee companies like Grounds & Hounds, which donates to animal rescue organizations, or Boca Java, which supports the troops as well as programs directed toward helping individuals with autism, are simple ways to get started.

Give before you get

For younger children especially, it can be helpful to introduce the concept of "giving before you get" before the holidays. I know in my family, it's inevitable that family members will very kindly gift my kids with a lot of presents, and it's always a challenge to know if they are truly grasping how to be grateful amid all of the gifts. So one idea floating around the internet is to start a "gift basket" before the holidays. Take a laundry basket and have your kids fill it up with toys, books, games, etc., that they would like to give as gifts to other kids. That way, they can learn early on that it's always important to give before you get.

Let the students become the teacher

By this, I mean, let the kids take the lead! I've found that usually, when I let my kids take the lead on a project, it goes far better than when I try to teach them a lesson. As an added bonus, they will learn more, too. So, challenge your kids to teach you about giving back: Chances are, you'll be surprised at how they are able to teach you a thing or two.

Related video: How to raise kinder children, according to experts (provided by TODAY)

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