Sunday, December 9, 2012

Teaching Children to be Generous

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...
English: Santa Claus with a little girl Esperanto: Patro Kristnasko kaj malgranda knabino Suomi: Joulupukki ja pieni tyttö (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It's the season of giving and I love using this theme in my guidance lessons this month.  In one class, we have watched videos of students who have given back to the community by providing gifts for foster children and another video of a student who as a cancer survivor, regularly visits other children in the hospital who are facing cancer treatment.  We have read a book or two about children who have used their birthday parties to collect food for pets at the local pet shelter.  Students of course have their own personal stories of giving and I like to involve them in thinking about and planning times to be generous to others all through the year.  We finish the lessons with a writing exercise where students answer two questions.  When was a time that you were generous to someone else?  What can you do to be generous in the future?  There are lots of creative and thoughtful answers with everything from helping endangered species to walking an elderly person across the street.  Of course there are always a few that crack me up... Here's my favorite:
When was a time that you were generous to someone else?  
Once I gave my mom a flower for mother's day.  
What can you do to be generous in the future?  
I can get a luxury car for my mom.  

I'm thinking, I'm signing up to be that kid's mom...

Developing the trait of generosity is something that can be started early in small ways and then developed into bigger projects as the child grows. Too many children in this country (and adults for that matter) are insulated from the inequalties, the hardship in the world. Developing and participating in service projects as a family is one way to overcome this. Determining the child's interests and concerns and then finding ways to serve in those areas is the best way to get cooperation. Taking into consideration the personality of the family members involved (as in all family projects) is critical as well.  Some children are better at being the leader while others are less likely to take on a leadership role but are quite dedicated workers. Age is of course a factor as well but even young children can learn to give food, toys or clothing to those in need. The best and most life changing service however, is service that involves giving of more than our excess. It involves giving time in service.  Your family might spend a Saturday morning in a soup kitchen for the homeless, or volunteer in a nursing home to visit with residents who have no family. It's cleaning up a park or helping out at an animal shelter. Service that moves us out of our comfort zone and challenges us to make a difference in the world develops children and ultimately adults, of compassion and character.

Here are some of the missions that benefit children that I'll be donating.  One benefits children in Georgia where I live:  Clark Howard's Christmas kids  which benefits foster children, Kenya Outreach Inc which benefits the Kioni  high school in Kenya by providing textbooks and other supplies and Wellspring Living which is making a difference in the exploitation of children through human trafficking.  

What are some of your favorite charitable organizations?  How do you teach children to  be  generous during the holidays?

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  1. I work in a field that serves clients who are always in need of something, not just our professional services, but also basic needs such as shelter, food, clothing. Our grandchildren understand this, and they are also exposed to the knowledge that life isn't equal by their parents.

    Recently one of my oldest daughter's twins had money in his hand on the way to school. She asked what it was and at first he said nothing, then said there was a jar for money at school for victims of fire and natural disaster. He had taken money out of his piggy bank to give. He and his sister also belong to Boy Scouts/Girl Scouts, and are exposed this way to the needs of others, as well as through church.

    It makes me feel like I have done something right when I look at the compassion in my children and grandchildren. Thanks for your timely reminder of the importance of this teaching Lynne.

    1. Cathy,
      What a great story! It does indeed make us feel like we are doing something right when children show such great concern for others!

  2. Wonderful post about an important virtue that we want to help instill in our future leaders! We help Save the Children by knitting hats for preemies in developing countries, so they're one of our faves! We also like Heifer Project because the kids can actually save their coins to purchase an animals for a family in need. We also help care for the military by writing them letters and sending them care packages twice a year, so those are probably our three favorite organizations to support.

    Our first-grade team has been working diligently with their little learners to brainstorm RACKs that they can perform. I noticed on Friday that many of our cars in the back parking lot had notes of cheer under their windshield wipers . . . team first! One boy told me he put a love note under his parents' pillows this week . . . team first! One left two chocolate peanut butter cookies in a baggie for our librarian . . . team first! Such small treats making such a BIG difference!



    1. I love how you remind us of so many ways, big and small to make a difference!! Write On!