THERE are lots of innovative ways to encourage children to give from a very young age. This Children’s Day, parents can consider ways in which they can teach their young ones to give by supporting charities, taking care of the environment, volunteering for community-based causes, and in many other ways. Educating kids to set aside their time or money (or both) for purposeful causes is fundamental to raising socially conscious citizens for the future.
Research shows that altruism begins in infancy, and it is important to sustain this as children age and start understanding the social environment around them. The findings in a study at the University of Washington not only showed that infants engage in benevolent behaviour but also suggest that early social experiences can shape charitable giving.
On Children’s Day, here are a few simple hacks to help keep the kids inspired and drive them to give for various causes.
Charity begins at home – but needn’t end there
In the last few months of the year, families prepare themselves for festivities, from shopping for Diwali and Christmas gifting, to bringing in the new year with joy and revelry. Irrespective of cultures, during these months, people all over the world also practice charity. In fact, sharing and giving is considered one’s moral duty in many religions, and has, over time, spurred several community-based rituals. Children who are raised performing such family rituals learn to see an intrinsic value in charity.
However, social giving for a noble cause does not need to be restricted to year-end family rituals alone. A popular trend lately, practising charity on one’s birthday or other occasions is an effective family activity to engage kids in charity. Serving lunch at a children’s orphanage, sponsoring a tea-party at a home for elderly war veterans, or spending the special day caring for animals at a shelter, for instance, are meaningful ways to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries all year round. And even on Children’s Day.
Be a role model
Children are visual learners, and the most effective way to teach them about giving back is by modelling that behaviour yourself. Since they learn best by emulating what they see their parents and elders do, leading by example is oftentimes the most effective way to convey the whys and wherefores of social giving. Pledge to start a weekend class this Children’s Day for the less privileged kids in your area, or have your kids assist you in packing preloved clothes and household items and dropping them off at an NGO that cares for the homeless.
Perhaps they could tag along and help you tend to stray animals around the block, have them drop a coin or two from their daily lunch money in a money box you set aside in the living room to support girl child education. Or even help you clean an elderly neighbour’s apartment on weekends. Much like any new hobby or interest, mix it up, and explore new opportunities, and you will help the little ones discover a whole new facet to themselves. And don’t just do this once in a while—make social giving a habit, so your kids then make it a regular part of their lives too.
Let children choose their cause
There are various forms of social giving: volunteering one’s time, donating money or goods, lending one’s talents to a cause. There’s an appropriate form of social giving for every age group and interest area. Encouraging kids to choose a cause that relates to their area of interest.
Children who choose which form of social giving feels like the best fit for them, are more likely to feel good about their generosity and gradually grow that into a giving habit. If your child is a sports enthusiast, they’d probably like to donate to a charity that supports sports enthusiasts from low-income families. If your daughter wants to be a teacher, perhaps she would be happy to help underprivileged children attend school. If your son misses his grandparents, he would perhaps find joy in spending time at a home for the aged.
Help kids understand the need and see the impact
Whether it’s volunteering to help persons with disabilities or plant saplings around the neighbourhood or donate toys to a home for abandoned children, explaining to children why this support is essential for the people receiving it is important. They should understand at every step how much value their simple act of kindness can add to a community.
On this Children’s Day, you can resolve to instil the seeds of empathy, kindness and social giving in your kids.
Laressa has presented the Bournvita Quiz Contest in 200+ schools across India. A corporate communication professional who was born in Calcutta and raised in Kolkata, her kaleidoscopic professional journey has helped fuel her love for travel and culture. Working with the social sector to give voice and volume to marginalised communities is Laressa’s ikigai.