Sometimes, our world seems to be all about the individual. We see people getting rewarded for being selfish every day. But selflessness and a sense of charity are valuable traits in any society, and especially in this one. Your kids are never too young to start learning to be selfless, and you can teach them some simple yet valuable lessons.
Teach Them About Philanthropy
Kids are never too young to start learning about philanthropy. The concept of sharing what they have or doing something nice for someone else is universal, and even young children have the capacity to understand this. Choose a philanthropic activity that you and your kids can do together. Choose something that matches with their interests. If your kids like animals, volunteer at a local shelter. If your kids are into food, do some work at the local soup kitchen or spend time donating food.
Give Lessons in Empathy
Image via Flickr by chilangoco
A great way to help explain why philanthropy matters is to teach your kids about empathy. Again, your kids are never too young to start understanding why it’s important to connect with others and to start developing empathy. Just ask them to imagine how they would feel if something bad happened to them (like another kid taking one of their toys, or everyone else getting a snack while they get passed over.) Then, ask them to stand in another kid’s metaphorical shoes in the same situation. That way, you start teaching them to be empathetic toward others.
Encourage Responsible Shopping
Voting with your dollar is an important part of being selfless. Responsible shopping involves doing research about the companies you shop with before you shop there. When your kids are into sports, for example, and they need new shoes or gear, use it as a teaching opportunity. Get on the computer together and research sports brands. Look at the philanthropy that Nike does, for example, but let your kid make the decision to choose Nike as a shopping destination. For general goods, Kohl’s is another great brand. You can teach them about Kohl’s Coupons for Good as another way to give back while shopping.
Explain Why Kindness (to Everyone) Matters
Kids need to know that it’s important to be kind to everyone. You can teach them this while still allowing them to maintain boundaries around adults. Simply explain that greeting people with a “hello” or a “good morning” is a polite way to go throughout the day. Saying “thank you” when someone does something for you, even if it’s something that person is paid to do (like tidying your hotel room) is important, too. All people deserve kindness, and teaching kids this at a young age is an important way to raise selfless adults.
It’s OK for your kids to feel selfish or to want to look out for themselves, sometimes. When they have tools like empathy and a good understanding of kindness and philanthropy, they’ll become adults who care both for themselves and for others.