Giving not only makes us feel better but it also makes us better human beings. Our children are already wired to give to others. We just have to guide them in the joy of giving.
Teaching Our Kids
Many of us were taught to give and share when we were little, and hence we want to teach our children the same. Why? Likely because it’s the right thing to do, the opposite of selfishness, good karma, etc. At the crux of this traditional wisdom is the underlying premise that empathy helps to predict successes in relationships, effectiveness, health and quality of life.
A Childs Moral Compass
So, we want our children to be empathetic and to give to others…but what if nature already had a way to get this done? It does. The fact is giving makes us (children and grown-ups alike) feel better.
Our kids are already wired to give. Studies suggest that “sharing” behaviors in preschoolers may be related to their own empathy – in other words, their own moral compass. Furthermore, research shows that the frequency of this behavior in little kids is not related to their age or gender, suggesting that no “socialization influences are at play”.
Generous People Live Longer
And while there seems to be ample evidence that generous giving is more rewarding than receiving on a number of levels, “from the neural, to the personal, to the social,” the benefits of giving don’t stop with how we feel. Studies suggest that “a strong correlation exists between the well-being, happiness, health, and longevity of people who are compassionate and giving. This is amazing, but it turns out that generous people actually are healthier and live longer.
It is clear then that our mission as parents and caregivers ought to be to guide our little ones in simply discovering the joy of giving (which they already carry within themselves) and thus live happier, healthier and more successful lives.
Our Top 5 Tips on Giving
Encourage generosity by making a connection.
Talk to them about how happy, excited and fortunate they are to have lots of toys, and how some children’s families can’t. Ask them if they wish other kids were just as happy also. Make a connection to others’ feelings.
There are many ways to give. Explain in simple terms a handful of choices and let them decide. Ideas could be collecting for food banks, or adopting an elderly relative that your child can make cards for or bring food to.
It’s not all about “toys”
Talk to your child about family members, neighbors, bus drivers or teachers who would appreciate being remembered and encourage your child to create their own expression of giving. “Your child may have a talent to share — reading a story or playing a musical instrument in person or via video for a neighbor or relative to enjoy”.
Talk about your own efforts
Tell your child about what you do personally (or the organization(s) you support or participate in) to help people in need. Let your child know how good you felt about making that contribution happen”.
Protect your child’s interests as you teach your child to share
Respect your child’s attachment to certain things, while still guiding her to be generous. “It’s normal for a child to be selfish with some toys and generous with others. Guard the prized toy. Ease your child into sharing”.
Giving in Our Community
Quesada on Bayfield Street has the most wonderful opportunity for giving this season. They would like you to help them fill their containers for our local Food Bank, while at the same time giving you something in return. This is certainly a win-win situation for everyone.
Written By: Jane Laker
Photo Credit: Stephen Elliott
Let us know if you’ve been into Quesada Bayfield lately and how they’re doing with their food drive by leaving us a comment. We’d be happy to hear from you.