In today’s world of flashy commercials, pricey name brands, retailers on every corner and line ups for the latest must have in electronics it is easy to see why kids develop a sense of need and want for material things.
How can parents find a balance and raise kids to think of others, to do things that make a difference, to give back to their own communities or to organizations that help others around the world?
How can we teach kids to care and think bigger than themselves?
5 Ideas to Raise Kids Who Care
Small Things Have A Big Impact
Making a casserole for a friend who is ill? Donating kids outgrown clothes to a shelter? Dropping change in the Ronald McDonald House charity collection jar? Do it while the kids are watching. Have them come with you. Take those moments to explain why you are giving, what effect your actions or donation will have and get the kids thinking of little things they can do.
A Tradition of Giving
Every Fall our family goes apple picking and then make apple pies together at home. Years ago I decided to make an extra pie for a friend to tell her how thankful I was for her friendship that year and a tradition was born. The kids and I discuss who we have been grateful for as we roll dough and slice apples and we deliver our special apple pie with a note of Thanks. It is a small tradition but one the kids remember and hopefully it teaches them to cherish and show their appreciation for others.
Giveaway Birthday Gifts
Birthdays have a way of happening every year and after 3 daughters and too many Barbie dolls I decided birthdays were best celebrated by giving back. We look for organizations we can be a part of, that makes the act of giving an event. Kids are invited to our birthday parties, asked to bring a wrapped donation of school supplies, books, cat litter or warm clothes depending on where we are donating and the birthday girl gets to open all of her ‘presents.’ A few days later we make a family trip to a drop off location or to the animal shelter and take a few hours to help in what ever way we can in addition to the donations. The kids still get a party and presents, but someone else enjoys the gift of their generous donation.
Encourage Their Ideas
I almost dismissed my 8 year old daughters idea for a “Cold Drink Stand” last summer. Thankfully I had purchased the drink mixes because the girls made signs, moved tables to the driveway, made drinks and went door to door getting people to come to their cold drink stand. In 2 hours those girls made $162 for Sew on Fire that sends supplies to countries in need. How could I not encourage that?
My 11 year old daughter has friends who are twins and love horses. For their birthday recently she wanted to buy them a horse and she knew just how she could do that. A $50 donation was made to her favorite animal rescue farm and she arranged to ‘adopt’ a horse in their name. With my help she made them a photo gift to remember their new pet and was so very proud of her creative gift idea.
Make It A Big Deal
Making a difference isn’t about recognition and what’s in it for them, but kids are kids. When something is fun, when something makes them feel good, when they are told you are proud of them, kids will remember that. Those are key motivators for kids to want to recreate those moments. Take photos of your kids making donations, get their friends involved, tell your friends what the kids did, tell their teachers at school, tell the local newspaper, show your kids how proud you are of them. Make a big deal of it and explain to them how great it is that they are making a difference.
Helping kids understand that even small gestures can make a big difference, that giving time can be as important as giving stuff, and that giving back can be fun are a few things you can do to encourage your kids to show they care.
Have your kids shown they care and made you proud? Share what they have done!