Parents have a lot of responsibilities extending far beyond providing their children with the bare basics in terms of shelter, food and nurturing. How a parent acts around their children and the knowledge they choose to impart upon them can massively influence the type of person a child grows up to be.
Of course, the goal for every parent is that their child grows up to be a kind, caring and upstanding member of society. An added bonus is a child who is altruistic, but it can be difficult knowing how to teach children about the importance of charity when you consider that a lot of charities support causes that may be too graphic or advanced for children to be exposed to.
Whilst it’s important not to traumatize children by showing them images or footage of anything that’s dark or scary, there are ways you can teach your children about charity and its importance without having to resort to anything too emotionally distressing.
Find out more about how you can teach your child about charity as a parent below.
Explain Things Visually
Every child is different, but a lot of children are able to better understand things when presented with a visual aid. As previously mentioned, you don’t want to show your children anything distressing, but you can still use visual aids. For example, if you have a homeless shelter nearby, you can explain to your child that some people don’t have a house like they do and that means they have to live on the street with all of their things. You can use your own house as an example of ask them how they’d feel if they didn’t have a house to live in and store all their belongings. You can follow this up with an explanation of how they can help – namely through donations. You can explain to them how by donating a little bit, they can make a big difference and help someone find a house. It’s all about perspective, so maybe start with things that children can directly relate to, like a house.
As mentioned, children tend to work well when they can visualize things, so making charity interactive is a great idea. Try fundraising through the medium of fun activities like challenges. Lots of schools put on dress up days where children can come in in a fancy dress outfit if they make a small charitable contribution. This is a great way to raise money, but few schools actually explain where that money is going. Once again, explain to children that they can have a big effect on someone’s life by doing something so small like dressing up. This teaches children that you don’t need to do something huge and arduous to make a difference, but that the very essence of charity lies in the smaller things.
Make it a Regular Thing
Repetition is key, so if your child doesn’t quite get something the first time round, that’s okay. It might take a few tries to get them to understand the concept of charity. In some cultures it’s instilled in them from a young age, as it is with some religions. For example, in Islam, Sadaqah (the act of giving to charity without the expectation of getting something in return) is taught from a young age, and the regular teachings results in Muslim children having as excellent grasp of charity very early on.
If you’re not a Muslim then Sadaqah won’t apply, but you can still make charity a regular thing. Supermarkets are often lined with charity donation boxes, so you could take your child with you shopping every week and put a coin in the donation box every time you go. This will instill the notion of regular charity and soon it will become normalized. Habits and repetition are great learning tools for children, and not just in the classroom, so by donating to charity regularly, your children will be best placed to understand it compared to if it were just a seasonal thing.
These are just a few of the ways you can teach your children about charity, but however you do it, as long as you do it and they understand, you’re onto a winner.