Talking to kids about charity can be tough, but research shows that talking about charity is more effective than role-modeling.
PBS Parents presents Adventures in Learning with Jennifer Cooper!
THE SET UP
Talking Points: Kids often operate from a center of self so talk to them about how their actions will affect others. For instance saying, “When we raise money for this charity, the money will go to kids who need medicine so they will get healthy” will have more of an impact than, “because it’s the right thing to do.” Both are true, but one helps frame it in a relatable way.
Keeping the Conversations Rolling: Bob Stains, from The Family Dinner Project offers these conversation starters to help inspire fun, thoughtful conversations about giving.
For Younger Kids: What can you give or do for someone that doesn’t cost any money?
For 8 to 12 Year Olds: Invent a superhero who protects something you care about. What is s/he fighting for? How does s/he create change?
Choosing a Charity: Talk as a family about who you’d like to help and why. Let the kids pick a charity they’d like to help, if they’re old enough. Our kids chose UNICEF after learning about it in school. They felt it was important for kids around the world to have access to medicine.
How to Give: Giving shouldn’t be something kids dread, so make it fun by doing something they enjoy. Ask them what they’d like to do. By pairing a fun activity with giving, they’re more likely to want to do it again.
Team Work: Everyone, no matter how big or small, has something they can give. Divide up the tasks among family members. In our case, the kids worked on set up, signs and publicity. I made cocoa and was on communications detail (I sent a Facebook message to our friends and neighbors) and my husband took care of logistics (making sure the money made it to UNICEF).
KEEPING IT GOING ALL YEAR
While the holiday season is an annual reminder to give, you can help make giving and sharing a family affair year round.
Here are more ideas from Stains:
- Disasters are opportunities to build compassion. After seeing news reports about natural disasters, ask, “What can we do?” Collect supplies for troubled areas, donate money, or buy toys for others.
- Reflect on giving at the dinner table. At dinner, ask, “What gifts did I receive today? What am I grateful for?” This can be followed by, “What did I give today? How can I help someone?”
- Look for need in the news. Save newspapers so that everyone can read a front page and circle areas of need. Have a discussion about how they might be able to help and create a plan for helping. See if there is an established charity that already supports that cause.
You can also check out The Family Dinner Project and Giving Tuesday collaboration for more resources for giving as a family.
Sharing our gifts, being empathetic and helping out our fellow man are powerful things. I like to think that by showing our kids they’re not alone and that they can make a difference, the world will be a better place for us all.
MORE ADVENTURES IN LEARNING
About Jennifer Cooper
Jennifer Cooper is the blogger behind Classic-Play.com, an online resource for creative families. Her favorite past times include: dancing around her living room, watching the Pink Panther with her kids and daydreaming. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, photographer Dave Cooper, and two children.