First, I want to tell you that if you have ever looked at your child and wondered if he or she is the single most selfish human on the planet, you are not alone.
A lot of us want to teach our kids to be compassionate and caring, but it isn’t always easy.
Kids are sort of naturally self-centered. I’m not a human development expert, but I know that they are born completely unable to do anything for themselves and for the first several months, they literally think that if you go in the other room, you cease to exist.
(Just so we all know who we are dealing with.)
And so, it can be hard when kids are little to teach them about something as unfamiliar as giving back.
Teaching Kids to Give
So why bother?
We know that we need to, though, right? Otherwise, they will continue to think the world owes them things, and in the worst cases, they will become unmarriable squatters who believe they should win medals for covering a co-worker’s shift at Taco Bell.
We can’t have that. We have European vacations to take someday.
And so, it’s important to begin teaching our kids about people who are less fortunate than they are.
How To Teach Kids to Give
I had a friend tell me that at her church, they were asking kids for donation ideas for struggling teens in their community. The kids said things like XBoxes and cell phones; while the youth group leaders tried to steer them toward things like warm socks and a place to do laundry.
The kids in the youth group were not being selfish – they wanted to help the teens buy things that they thought were cool. But they were unaware that a lot of kids just want food and shelter and an invested adult. They just didn’t know anything different.
So how can we introduce kids to real-life struggles?
Share a book
One of my favorite books for this is Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña, a story about a little boy and his grandma riding the bus after church on Sunday. Why don’t they have a car, the boy asks his grandma? And why do they have to ride through the city each week?
The grandma is patient but firm, and in the end, Last Stop on Market Street is a book about how we can all give back, no matter how much we have ourselves.
Another option for helping kids is to give back is volunteering.
Some organizations really embrace kids volunteering, but you might have to search a little bit. You might also need to work with an organization to “create” jobs for kids. For instance, at a food pantry in our area, they don’t have specific jobs for children, but they love when kids help their adult sort cans and boxes.
So you might need to get creative.
Do your own thing
But if you still have trouble finding a volunteer job for your family, you might need to go off script a bit. A few years ago, we learned about an emergency shelter here in town that allows parents to drop off their children for up to 48 hours in a crisis situation.
A few families we know got together to brainstorm what those kids might need when they were suddenly displaced and separated from their families.
So we made bags and filled them with blankets and books, plus toiletries and a stuffed friend.
And because several families worked together on this project, we were able to do more. Consider getting your co-op or homeschool group involved in a volunteer project this year.
Or, if you don’t have a homeschool group do what you can over time to help kids see a bigger impact. For instance, every month, buy a few pairs of gloves or socks and donate at the end of the year.
Host a dinner
Finally, I recently learned that Raddish Kids is partnering with Habitat for Humanity this year to get families around the country hosting Gather for Good dinner parties.
Raddish Kids has compiled everything you need to host a party into a FREE download, and for each download, they will donate $1 to Habitat for Humanity.
The free download includes invitations, step-by-step recipes that your kids can make, and even games to play at your dinner. It also makes it easy for your family to set your own fundraising goal.
To download your free guide, go to raddishkids.com/gatherforgood.
Small Steps to Giving
Take one small step together
It can be hard to know how to help when we as adults know that a lot of the world is suffering. So I encourage you to take one small step today toward giving back with your kids.
I think compassion can go a long way, and teaching our kids the value of helping others can be a wonderful part of our homeschool curricula.
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