I’m so pleased to share this guest post with you all by Sina of Living by the Margin! She blogs about all things motherhood, style and organization over at www.livingbythemargin.com
Today we’ll be talking about how to instill charity in your children. No, I’m not talking giving shoeboxes filled with goodies to children in Africa. (Although, that’s a great kind of charity too!)
I’m talking about teaching your children how to approach others with love, and tolerance, and kindness.
What is Charity?
Let’s look at the word “charity” to see if we can understand what I mean. The English Oxford Living Dictionary defines this way:
noun: charity; plural noun: charities
1. an organization set up to provide help and raise money for those in need.”
(Good, but remember not what we’re talking about today.)
“2. The voluntary giving of help, typically in the form of money, to those in need. ”
(Also wonderful, but let’s move on…)
“3. Kindness and tolerance in judging others. ”
Ahhh there it is!
Why Should I Instill Charity in my Child?
Well, I’m glad you asked!
Children love to ask why anyway! By answering why we give them a reason to be charitable. Teaching them why gives them motivation.
So what is the why?
Did you know that sometimes we help ourselves by helping others?
This study, done by researchers from the University of California and the University of British Columbia, showed that:
“students who performed kind acts experience significantly bigger increases in peer acceptance than students who visited places.”
Isn’t that amazing?
Not that being charitable should be a self-serving act. Being charitable also promotes good morals, encourages kindness, and helps to broaden a child’s (or anyone’s!) worldview.
How to Instill Charity in Your Children
So, how can we teach our children how to be kind and tolerant? How can we teach them to be empathetic and charitable?
Glad you asked!
Set the Example.
One of the ways we can instil charity in our children is to model it ourselves. Make an effort in your own life to model the behaviours you want your children to model. Or as the old saying goes,
“Children do what you do, and not what you say!”
This saying is, in part, true. You can’t expect your child to exhibit charitable behaviour just because you tell them to, and then not exhibit it yourself.
For instance, if you want them to learn tolerance, be tolerant! It’s that simple. It’s no secret our children look up to us and learn from us-sometimes both the good AND bad.
Now that doesn’t mean you show kindness just during the holidays or special occasions. Doing something once doesn’t mean you are actually a certain way.
Here is where I disagree with the saying-kids do notice our words too! Even if they may model our actions more, I think words definitely still matter.
Teach your children to be charitable by exhibiting kindness in word and deed. For instance, ask how you can make someone’s day better, or how someone is feeling, and then go and do something about it.
The best way to set the example is to be conscious of what behaviours and words you are exemplifying in your everyday life. Your kids will notice!
Teach it to Them
This may sound somewhat redundant, but if you want your children to learn charity, teach it to them! That means if a situation comes up where they ask for your advice in a situation where charity could and should be shown, discuss it with them.
Teach them what happens when we aren’t charitable to others. (This is a great segway to bullying, depression, etc.) Teach them to think from the others person’s perspective.
Give them practical examples to exhibit charity, in word or deed! Charity isn’t always an action like we discussed before. Sometimes, charity is verbal. Let them practice this skill! Great opportunities to do this are when they need to apologize to someone, or need to share with someone!
If you see them being charitable PRAISE THEM. Reinforce the good habit.
Remember to be patient with them. Charity is not something that comes naturally to most people. Often charity is learned. Repeat these lessons until is instilled in them.
If we want to teach our children effectively about charity, I think we better make sure we are experts on the subject!
As a mom, or spouse, or woman, or (you fill in the blank), do you feel the pressure of “having to do it all”?
I’m a fellow mom who knows just what it feels like trying to juggle all the balls that life has thrown. However, instead of accepting this life and trying to do it all, I’ve decided to “live life by the margin”. By this I mean, I love to live a simple life.
This is not easily accomplished. It is a conscious daily decision to focus on the important people in my life. It is reducing things that decrease my happiness and increase my stress levels; it is learning to live without. Without the clutter of things I don’t need, and without the craziness and chaos of activities I don’t really need to be doing. It is having room in my life, and white space in my planner (the Margins), to enjoy unexpected memories and irreplaceable moments, whenever they might occur.
I hope you enjoy my guest post today, please visit my blog, www.livingbythemargin.com, for more! (Photo credit Chelsea Farley Photography)