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The Importance of Teaching Kids Giving

The Importance of Teaching Kids Giving

Thursday, November 23, 2023
Category: Giving, Holidays

As a holiday, Thanksgiving is a time for many things: feats of culinary coordination, feasts with family and friends, and, of course, remembering to be thankful for what we have. Yet given that Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season, and with the advent of Giving Tuesday, it’s important to put the “giving” back into Thanksgiving. This is especially true if you’re a parent who is mindful of teaching good values to your kids. Here’s why it’s worthwhile to teach children about the deepest meaning of Thanksgiving — and ways you can do this.

The Benefits of Teaching Kids to Be Charitable

Being generous can mean many things, and teaching kids to give has countless benefits beyond building moral character. Giving is very much a two-way street.

Fostering Empathy and Perspective

Being a giving person is not just about money. It’s rooted in something much more important: social and emotional generosity. Molding children to have a giving nature is, at its core, about fostering empathy and considering perspectives other than their own. For example, research shows that children are capable of picking out thoughtful gifts for others as early as age 4, which means they can understand and honor others’ needs and preferences. 

This, in turn, means they are also capable of non-material generosity. For example, kids can learn to be emotionally generous by being kind, helping out with tasks, advocating for pets, or demonstrating good behavior without being rewarded. The ability and willingness to take empathy-driven actions is essential for their emotional and social development.

Building Self-Esteem

You may not have thought of it this way, but giving to others also helps children develop self-esteem, pride, and a sense of agency. That’s in part because doing nice things for others shows kids that they have the power to make others happy, and that even a small act of thoughtfulness can have a big impact in this regard. They can also be proud of having brought about a positive reaction in someone else. This helps children to be more confident in their social interactions and to develop good teamwork skills.

Improving Mental Health and Healthy Relationships

It’s a simple fact that generous people tend to be happier and have healthier relationships. Teaching kids to be giving at an early age paves the way for them to be successful at:

  • Making friends
  • Getting along with classmates, teammates, coworkers, and neighbors
  • Giving back to their community
  • Becoming responsible pet owners
  • Being a good life partner 
  • Being a good parent themselves

In short, teaching your child a little generosity now can prepare them for a happier, healthier future in very real ways. It also enables them to bring a little more light and joy into the world throughout their life.

Building Financial Literacy Skills

Financial education often emphasizes earning and saving, but one of the most valuable lessons parents can teach their children about money is how to appropriately give it away. Learning about philanthropy helps kids to understand that they are part of a local community and a global one, and that they should want to have a positive impact on both. It can also help them adhere to important moral and religious principles. In addition, children can begin to understand that, like other investments, philanthropy is an investment in a more just and healthy world. 

How to Teach Kids to Give

Here are some simple, practical ways you can sow the seeds of generosity — emotionally, socially, and financially — in your child.

Start Small

Begin by showing your child ways to do small acts of kindness, like holding doors open for people or visiting a sick relative. By instilling a sense of social and emotional charity first, you can build on this later, teaching your young one that financial generosity is just another form of empathy.

Be a Role Model

Children learn more about finances from their parents than any other source. So, involve them in activities like dropping money into charity boxes, volunteering, or participating in fundraising events.  Parents can be excellent role models for kids just by including them in teachable moments like these. In addition to teaching your child good values, you’ll show them important things about what it means to be a grownup.

Involve Them in Philanthropic Decision-Making

If you donate to charity or nonprofits, explain to your child that there are many kinds of worthwhile causes. Share with them what motivates you to give to specific organizations. Talk to them about their personal interests and show them how these are related to certain kinds of causes. Then allow your child to choose a cause or organization that matters to them and make a donation on their behalf. They’re more likely to want to support a cause that they know about and identify with.

You can even turn this activity into a seasonal family tradition. You and your child can give to the same cause every year during the holidays, or add new ones to the list.

You don’t have to teach your child thankfulness or giving all on your own. In fact, learning about these concepts can be all the more formative for your child if they see these traits modeled by different people in different contexts. Let the proverbial village help raise your child to be generous by enrolling them in wholesome extracurricular activities and community programs, such as a summer camp.

Teach Kids Thanks + Giving With Surprise Lake Camp

Surprise Lake Camp is a nonprofit organization that provides a home away from home for generations of young people. We believe in the value of community and friendship. Our Jewish values and identity shape our connection to nature. We’re dedicated to helping young people unplug, grow, and develop values, confidence, and skills to last a lifetime, adding to SLC’s storied history as the nation’s longest-running Jewish sleepaway camp.

We also teach our campers to live thankful lives (we even have our very own gratitude game!) and work to ensure that they have plenty of things to feel grateful for each summer and all year long.

SLC is thankful for you! When you make a charitable gift to Surprise Lake Camp, you give children life-changing experiences. Partner with us to provide campers confidence, growth, friendships, and Jewish identity. Donate today!