It is never too early to start teaching your children the importance of empathy and charitability. Between the ages of 7 to 9, children can begin to understand their place in the world and the importance of helping others. In a society that can be veiled by self interest, the values of having a charitable heart may help foster an influence to make the world a better place.
Teach them to be understanding
Sometimes, especially for children, it can be hard to understand others’ misfortunes. Leading by example and showing them how to listen to their friends when something bad has happened or when they are in pain is a beginning point for them to understand how to show how they care.
Encourage them to offer sympathy to their friends by inviting them over to play or to eat some ice cream when they may be going through a tough time, such as their parents’ divorce or a family pet dying. If your children are being bullied, teaching them to question the root of their bully’s anger may help in building a broader range of compassion and empathy, as well.
Talk to them about being thankful
It’s easy to get comfortable with what we have, and even easier to long for more than what we’ve got. Children are much the same. Often the best way to teach them how to be thankful is to have them engage in giving thanks. Before the holidays, give your children their very own set of thank you cards and, 24 hours after opening gifts, have them sit and write thank you’s to everyone who gave them a gift.
At a young age, it is hard sometimes to fully understand how fortunate one might be. Taking part in charitable organizations, mission trips and community efforts to help families who may be going through hard times is a wonderful way to teach children to be thankful for what they have and show how to give back in a bigger way. Let them know it is ok to ask you questions and share feelings and thoughts.
Practice the art of giving
How many times have you turned around and the playroom looks like a mini Target store? Discarded stuffed animals that were once loved are now face down on the floor, and the clutter is seemingly infinite. This is a wonderful opportunity to gather the children and teach them the practice of giving.
Generosity can be fundamental for cultivating a selfless and charitable life. Ask and encourage your children to donate unused toys, clothing that no longer fits or books they no longer want
to others in need. Another simple and easy way to give back is to have your children write or draw on cards to their teachers or residents of nursing homes in the area, or have them put together care packages for members of the military during the holidays. Embrace the opportunities to teach your children what it means to have charitable hearts, and contribute to a more compassionate future.