Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teaching Generosity at Home

The PACE Character Trait of the month is Generosity.  This article by Dr. Robyn Silverman outlines some ways to teach generosity to children.  They include:

Request that your children pick out one item each at the grocery store to contribute to the local food pantry.
Direct your children to set aside a certain percentage of their allowance, job money, or money that came through gifts for the purpose of giving to charity. Then help them choose a charity that is meaningful to them.
Visit an assisted living facility or a nursing home so that your children can sing songs, play games, and read with the seniors there.
After every other season, have a “closet day” in which your children spend some time going through their closet and bagging up the things that are too small or unused. Then drive them to the drop off center or charity and allow them to contribute their donations.
Invite someone who doesn’t have family nearby to share a meal or come over for a movie. You wouldn’t believe how grateful they will be just to feel included.
Encourage your children to call elderly family members—even extended family members– just to say hello, tell them what’s new, and ask them what they’re up to these days. A simple call can make someone’s day.
Ensure that your children send out thank you cards. If they’re very young, have them sign them in their own way—either with their name, a drawing, or decorative stickers.
Read books that illustrate the power of giving. Talk about the characters with your children and ask them how each character showed generosity of spirit. What did they admire?
Whenever you give your time, talent, thanks, or treasures to others, let your children know how good it makes you feel, how it helps others, and why you do it. When they see and hear about you doing it, it will be more natural for them to do it as well. It will simply be “something your family does.”
Refrain from giving material rewards for giving generously. It’s counter intuitive to reward a child for giving by giving him or her money or more toys. Generosity should be tied to internal gratification not external motivators.
Before your child’s birthday or birthday party, ask him or her which toys she can contribute to others. If s/he receives 10 new gifts, are their 10 toys or games from her current stash that she can donate to someone in need?
Nip selfishness in the bud. Many parents reward tantrums by giving toys and treats to their children. This breeds more selfishness.
Let your children know when you see a great example of generosity among them or their friends. Praise the person who showed the generosity in front of your children as well as privately.
Each day ask what the family is grateful for and how they showed generosity. This can become part of your routine at dinner time or before bed.