Children and Giving: Charity Begins During Childhood
Come October, families world over brace themselves for a winter full of festivities. We go from celebrating Goddess Durga to bringing in the new year with fanfare and joy. And irrespective of the culture they belong to, people all over the world believe in and practise charity during the festive season. In fact, sharing and giving is considered one’s moral duty in many religious beliefs — an activity that communities perform together. Children who grow up with such rituals are raised to see an intrinsic value in charity.
Why we need charitable children
Although religion today is loosening its hold over us, generosity continues to be the benchmark of a good person in our society. And this behaviour takes years of training and practise for a child to learn.
Here’s why taking to charity early will bring out the best in your child.
- Forge connections
Whether your child chooses to volunteer at an animal shelter or raise awareness about women’s rights, they must meet different people working towards the same cause. This can be a unique opportunity for them to connect with a like-minded but diverse crowd. The shared passion will encourage children to interact with others and form connections with their fellow do-gooders. Who knows, an unlikely friendship from these volunteering days might just last a lifetime!
- Instill self-belief
All of us need recognition for our efforts — and what better validation than knowing that we make a difference to someone’s life. Research even states that seeing themselves as responsible members of the community improves children’s emotional wellbeing and motivates them to act selflessly.
- Learn new things
Doing good requires more than just dreaming about it. It involves legwork in the form of gathering funds, writing articles, convincing strangers or anything else that the cause calls for. This opens the door for young people to contribute in every way possible. As they volunteer for their favourite cause, children can learn to put their talents to good use.
How to teach children about charity
As soon as children reach the age of 2, and have grasped the concept of ‘me’ and ‘mine’, it’s impossible to imagine them sharing anything! But hidden underneath this childhood egocentrism is a deep-seated and natural compassion for other beings. One only needs to observe children around injured or sad people to see how they try their best to help. While sharing toys may not come easily to toddlers or preteens, parents can still create the right conditions for their child to uncover their charitable nature.
Here are some guidelines to follow when teaching children about charity.
- Join as a family
Take the old adage of ‘charity begins at home’ to heart and join a cause as a family. It helps children to know that the people closest to them support their ambitions to do good in the world. The family can also offer a safety net to their children’s failures on this challenging journey.
- Give them choice
It makes a huge difference if children pick a cause to support out of their own free will and choose the way they want to contribute. While one child may feel confident raising awareness on an issue at a public event, another might be comfortable launching a social media campaign instead. The important thing is that they help out in their own unique style.
- Show them the impact
The learning loop of charity completes itself once the child has seen the effect of their actions. And an adult facilitator’s job is to display how every small action counts in a cause that is larger than us all.
We are swiftly moving towards a world in which even charity is a career option; from fresh graduates to multinational companies — everyone wants to be in on this trend. Even though doing good is becoming a step on the career ladder, children need to be taught how to find real joy in their work. Which is why, more than ever, we need more children who believe that a smile on someone’s face is reward enough for their actions. And parents who help raise such children are the true heroes of our society.