Teaching Children About Charitable Behavior

By Julia Fitzgerald

Timely topics
Charitable Behavior

Some things we teach our kids are pretty straightforward — shoe tying, bike riding, nose blowing and simple addition. Other things take a little more nuance. For example, how do you teach your child about the importance of charitable behavior or looking out for our fellow humans?

Helping out is one of those modeled behaviors. The more kids see their parents and friends involved with a charity, the more they come to see this as normal and a rewarding way to spend their time.  These days many events are built around family participation. For example, Sylvan just sponsored the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk to encourage families to come out and walk to join the fight against blood cancer. The “Team Sylvan” kids who attended had a great time and also had the experience of being part of something bigger than themselves. The older children also recognized that leukemia affects thousands of kids, and it’s blind luck that they are the supporting walkers instead of the survivors undergoing treatment.

It is critical that we teach our kids the importance of charitable engagement. There is always someone in need of a helping hand. There is always something so big that it takes a focused community effort to tackle it. An easy step to introduce kids to the concept of service is finding something that is meaningful to your family or to your community. This month is a great time to start this practice of community service. Churches and schools are starting holiday angel trees, organizations are holding coat and clothing drives, and communities are planning for Thanksgiving dinners, which all need donations of time and treasure. These are great opportunities to involve your children in charitable activities with you. You can then talk to them about why it is important to look out for each other — even people we don’t know. Each opportunity to volunteer and give back is a teachable moment for children. They will learn something different than what they learn in the classroom. Being involved in charitable activities will give your family even more reasons to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day.

How do you teach your children about the importance of charitable behavior? How does your family get involved and give back during this time of year?