Children have a lot on their plate as they compete in pressure-packed schools, make time for extra-curricular activities, or start their own careers and families, noted Page Snow of business news Forbes. But can you make your children become givers?
Sadly, you can’t guilt, shame, or bribe them to become generous individuals. However, generosity can only be embraced or become a lifelong passion if and when it satisfies your child’s inner desire.
This is akin to your child embracing other hobbies or activities like reading or exercise. When kids love something, they make time and free up resources for it. As a parent, how can you make use of that time to instill generosity?
Passing Down Generosity to Sons and Daughters
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute, an institution focused on building a powerful and diverse force of female philanthropists, involved 3,700 adult children consisting of 1,935 daughters and 1,765 sons to assess how parents pass on generosity to their kids and whether this trait differs for sons and daughters.
To set the context of the study, 86.6% of parents and 79.4% of children gave to charity at least once during the multi-year study period. Daughters (80.2%) were slightly more likely to give than sons (78.5%). Parents gave an average of $946 to charity while kids gave an average of $700. On a closer look, sons ($743) tend to give more money than daughters ($662).
With regard to the transmission of generosity from parents to children, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute found that 80.5% of adult children whose parents give to charity were more likely to give compared to 71.8% of those whose parents do not give to charity. It also found that daughters whose parents give to charity (82.6%) were more likely to give than those whose parents do not give (69.7%). Parental giving was correlated with the son’s likelihood of giving (78.3%) compared to sons whose parents do not give (74.7%).
Among adult daughters, 84.3% of them give if their parents give frequently, 80.2% give occasionally, and 72.8% give infrequently. 79.3% of adult sons were more likely to give if their parents give frequently, compared to those whose parents give occasionally (77.9%) and infrequently (73.9%).
For daughters whose parents have a household wealth of less than $100,000, they were more likely to give (74.4%), unlike daughters whose parents do not give (55.2%). Sons’ likelihood of giving (70.9%) was higher than sons whose parents do not give (57.9%).
For households that have a wealth of more than $100,000, the likelihood of giving was more pronounced when the daughters’ parents give (92.4% versus (65.4%) adult daughters of parents who do not give. There no difference in sons’ likelihood of giving regardless of whether their parents give or not (87.5%).
Giving was more prevalent among daughters, gleaning from the fact that charitable giving is a form of caretaking. This enables parents to socialize their daughters into a more caregiving role. Moreover, parent-daughter giving link was more pronounced in wealthier families, suggesting that investing in their daughters’ generosity varies with wealth.
Kids become more cognizant of other people’s feelings when they turn three years old. For Snow, this is the perfect time to teach them the art of giving. You can help build that up by letting them read age-appropriate books on generosity and giving to others. You can also use books to answer difficult questions such as “Why did that man ask you for money?” or “Why is that woman sleeping on the park bench?”
It is also recommended to engage in acts of charity to reinforce the belief that your family values acts of generosity. Bring your child with you when you donate books to a homeless shelter, give away used clothes and toys, or shovel an elderly neighbor’s driveway.
Don’t forget to thank the people around you to model gratitude to your child, said Robyn Silverman of US News, an American media company. Thanking someone takes little time and effort and means a lot to those we express our gratitude. People are concerned that kids (and adults) are becoming more entitled nowadays. Despite that, you should provide your child with ample opportunities to engage to be more giving out of habit.
Choose A Charity
You and your child can choose a charity they could donate to support its cause, suggested Child Mind Institute, an independent non-profit organization. A charity can also make children feel proud or might even start a new tradition, especially if it fell around on a holiday, birthday, or any special occasion.
Make Giving A Part of Family Tradition
Your child would love to hear about their family’s history of giving, whether or not you are sharing such stories during the holidays. Share stories about giving from your own childhood. You can also tell stories about acts of generosity like when your child’s grandfather helped his neighbors or how their aunt planted a community garden.
Narrating stories helps evoke a bigger sense of belonging among your kids. Establishing a family foundation is a wonderful idea to keep the tradition going in perpetuity. A family foundation becomes an heirloom that connects generations. Working to foster philanthropic values can produce generations of individuals who are committed to doing acts of generosity.
Praise Acts of Generosity
Your child will occasionally do nice things for other people. Praise them if you notice that your little one shared a toy, compliment someone, help carry the groceries, or engage in any acts of generosity. Praise will more likely make your child continue doing good behavior.
Encourage them to look for small, but simple ways to make a positive difference someone’s day. Remember, generosity is not always about volunteering or donating toys or clothes. For example, your child could stay kind to someone after they have committed a mistake or help a sibling finish household chores.
Did you know that time can be an act of generosity? For instance, your child could spend time with a grandparent or read a book to a younger sibling To help trigger their charitable instincts, you can try asking your child these questions: “What things are you thankful for? What makes you happy? What makes you sad?”
Generosity is something that is practiced at a young age. Parents can’t nag or shame their child to give. Giving should be done from the heart and should never be a form of forced charity.