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Five Ways to Teach Your Child to Give Back

Children helping each other outside

The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to reflect on all we have to be grateful for and to take the opportunity to give back to our community. It’s important to teach children altruism in an sensitive and inspiring way, in order to create positive feelings around giving back. There are so many ways that children can start to give back to society, and it can often be a fun family affair! We’ve organized a short guide here for ways to positively influence your child to pay it forward.

Start by asking your child about what they think about giving

Empathy is more universal than we might think! Your child might have great ideas all on their own about giving back to their community. The spirit of giving is all about doing something meaningful for someone else, so if the idea comes straight from your child, it will be the most special of all. Community can also mean different things to different people, including your kiddo. Perhaps you child would like to give back to their classmates, their siblings, their neighborhood block, or maybe even give something to you! 

Explain what you think about giving

Families have all sorts of different ideas about giving, and it’s important to incorporate your own values surrounding altruistic acts when talking to your child. Most children are able to grasp the idea that giving is doing something nice for someone else, so that they can feel good too! This is also an opportunity to teach them about different types of giving: financial donations, giving tangible items, spending time to do something for someone else, or other random acts of kindness. 

Brainstorm some ideas for giving together

Sometimes children are alarmed when they feel forced to give—it might feel like their things are being taken away without them really understanding the impact it will have for someone else. Brainstorming ideas together for how you would like to give back to your community can help to get your child invested from the beginning and make this a fun process! Some ideas we like for kids are to write a letter thanking a military service member, the family friendly opportunities through NYC Cares, or some Christmas shopping for another NYC family in need.

Check in with how your child feels after giving back

We oftentimes fly through experiences without really examining how we felt about them or what they made us think about. Don’t do this with your giving experience! You might ask your child to share what they thought about giving before and if anything changed afterwards. Talking about how an act of kindness made them feel might help them to notice how giving makes us feel good. It’s important to continue to check in as well—they might feel differently after giving a painting away at a local nursing home than they do after planting a tree. 

Make giving back part of your family routine

Giving back doesn’t always have to involve a big process of signing up for a volunteer opportunity. Intentionally taking time out of your day to model acts of kindness will continue to inspire your child to give back year round! Perhaps that looks like stopping to pick up a piece of trash at the park or bringing some extra cookies to your neighbor. Continuing to talk to your child about giving back, how it makes them feel, and what change you both can make for your community will encourage your child to want to give back throughout their lives.

Thinking of doing some volunteer work as a family this holiday season? Make sure to tag SmartSitting in your Facebook and Instagram posts so we can see and share your posts on our channels. Looking for more information about paying it forward as a family? Make sure you sign up for our newsletter for all the latest info coming from our team!

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