Generosity and kindness are important qualities that all parents strive to instill in children. Not only is it nice to live among others who are generous, but did you know that being kind will make you a better leader and more successful in work and life? Cultivating these habits at an early age is a very straightforward process. Organizations like Real Parenting Lab are even launching courses for parents who want to boost gratitude and empathy in their kids. But before you enroll in a course, check out these three simple activities that foster generosity in kids:
1. Create a culture of helping
Toddlers love helping. Sure, my son’s help is imperfect and often leads to my doing twice the work, but he loves simple household chores like taking out the garbage, sweeping the floor, and he cheers when I finish vacuuming. Build on this spirit of generosity by encouraging your child/children to help neighbours with garbage removal, dog-walking or planting a garden. I strongly recommend bringing your child to visit a grandparent or family member in a seniors’ care facility. It’s a joyful and entertaining experience for everyone!
2. Homemade kindness
Cultivate authentic gift-giving by baking cookies with your child or supervising the glue while they craft a card for a friend. The simple act of giving a homemade gift deepens our understanding of gratitude and, research shows, can even reduce anxiety in kids.
3. Understand charitable giving
This might be a stretch for parents whose kids have a pretty basic (or non-existent) understanding of money but may work for other parents. I asked several of my values-based banking colleagues for advice and heard dozens of awesome stories about how allocating allowance to charities or participating in holiday toy drives fosters a sense of gratitude for what we have and what others might need. I even met a 10-year-old who asked me how to transform her lemonade stand into a social enterprise (this is an aspirational kind of giving, folks!)
However you cultivate generosity and kindness with your kid(s), be sure to make it a family affair and make charitable giving and/or volunteering an enjoyable experience for the kids.