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Encouraging Generosity in Kids


Presents! Toys! It’s December, which means lots of kids are thinking about holiday gifts. But giving is a two-way street, and this is a great time of year to talk to your kids about generosity.

When beginning the discussion, try to avoid language that makes people in need seem different. Instead, emphasize that everyone needs help at some point. Dr. Anne Fishel recommends talking about help that has been important to you, like  a teacher in high school who helped you become a better writer, or a friend who brought over soup when you were sick, or a partner who surprised you by cleaning the house and doing the grocery shopping when you were exhausted. Then, ask your children to think of help that has been important to them.

Bob Stains from the Public Conversations Project offers these quick tips for encouraging generosity in kids.

Quick Tips for Giving

  • Make giving a part of regular life. For instance, the Jewish practice of the “Tzedakah box” encourages everyone to regularly put money into a box on the table or counter. Seeing parents give can be a powerful motivator for kids.
  • Have your children pick a cause, then support it as a family. Ask your kids to think of a cause they’re passionate about. Help them find a charity that supports that cause, and donate or volunteer as a family.
  • Disasters are opportunities to build compassion. After seeing news reports about natural disasters, ask, “What can we do?” Collect supplies for troubled areas, donate money, or buy toys for others.
  • Reflect on giving at the dinner table. At dinner, ask “What gifts did I receive today? What am I grateful for?” This can be followed by, “What did I give today? How did I help someone?”

A Kid’s Guide to Giving or The Giving Book are also great resources for helping kids think of ways to give back!