One of the best reasons to get involved in doing good and giving to the less fortunate is to prepare your child for adulthood. You can decide what form of giving back you take on as a family, be it donating money, volunteering your time or giving out goods. A good time to make this a habit is at the end of the year when everyone is in a festive mood. Get the whole family involved in giving some of what you have to the community and to people who don’t have as much. It also serves as a reminder that when you have been blessed you should bless others.
The reward for giving back is both for the recipient and the giver. This will help to prepare the child for what kind of adult you want them to grow into. When is a good time to start? When a child is old enough to understand the concept that some people are not as fortunate as them. This is a good time to practice giving and sharing. One way to practice this is to let your child choose from their old toys and clothes and give the items to a favoured charity together. Older children can decide to spend time playing football or reading books with children in a shelter. However children should not get the idea that helping the less fortunate is only about giving away what they don't want, so go shopping for items such as food and drinks that you intend to give away. It is about learning to care for other people, not about using it as an excuse to de-clutter your house.
If we want our children to give back, the whole family needs to be involved in activities that include donating resources, time and money when possible. The act of learning to give and care for other people builds empathy and encourages the principle that if you have something of value you should be able to donate part of it for the benefit of others. This is a powerful lesson for a child to learn and then grow with.
As with everything else in life, children learn best by example and not just by what you say they should do. A sense of awareness of something greater than themselves is important in raising a compassionate and caring individual. This sense of responsibility to others can be supported by making children aware of others' needs and making it a point to find out ways to help.
Teaching children to give back and be caring for those who are less fortunate is one of the best lessons you can teach your child. So instead of only buying new items at Christmas let your child choose some items they will give out or decide a nice thing they are going to do for someone just because they care.
The true reward in giving is the sense of joy you get in making someone else happy.
Yetty Williams is the founder of LagosMums.com, an online resource for family life and parenting.
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