Guest post from Kimber of Let’s Do Some Good Today
As a mother, I learned something very quickly: everything I do, good or bad, is being watched by my children – and by watching how I live, they’re learning what kind of person to be. No pressure, right?
That can be kind of scary – especially when you hear your two-year-old sternly and grumpily putting her toys in time out (“Do I really sound that cranky?). But it is also absolutely amazing when you see your children learning the good things you have modeled.
With a little bit of intentional parenting, you can teach your children to be givers. And of the many things I want for my children, I can hardly think of anything that I desire more than that.
Are you with me? Do you want to teach your children to be givers? I’m so glad!
Sometimes, you might wonder exactly how to go about that — especially when money is tight. But I believe that there is always, always something you can do to make the world a little bit better.
And by choosing to give, even when you don’t have much extra in your budget, you are teaching your children a poignant lesson that will last a lifetime.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to teach our children to give on a budget:
1. Teach them to respect their community by picking up trash.
Have you ever been to a park (or at a lake, or on a hike) and been frustrated by trash on the ground?
Whenever we’re going to be in nature, I try to remember to stick a plastic bag in my pocket. If we see a few pieces of trash while we’re out, we pick them up. As we do it, I teach my kids about what a blessing our beautiful surroundings are, and what a gift we’re giving the people behind us by making it a little bit cleaner.
2. Practice good manners everywhere you go.
Both of my children can be a bit shy, particularly my son. But every time we are checking out at a grocery store, I insist that they thank the cashier. If they have a name tag, I always read it. “Son, please tell Miss Jennifer thank you.”
It’s a very small act of kindness, and some people barely notice. Many times, however, we are rewarded with a huge smile. To be noticed and to be appreciated is something that everyone craves, and it’s extra special when it’s coming from a cute kid!
The nice thing is, after working on this for a long time, it’s now second nature to my kids. It’s not unusual for my son to pipe up with a “Thank you, ma’am!” or for my daughter to read the name tag of the employee herself.
3. Teach your children to serve those in your family.
During the month of October, we have a “service ghost” that floats around our home. When the service ghost pops up in your room, someone has done something nice for you – and you then get to pay it forward!
There’s something fun about sneakily serving others. You can adapt this to whatever holiday is coming up, or just leave behind a little note.
I’ve found that the child who does the service is usually even happier than the person who receives it. What a blessing, to learn that lesson at an early age!
4. Allow your child to earn money.
Some people are “for” allowances and some are “against” it. Whatever your stance is, if you have even just a few extra dollars in your budget, I’d encourage you to find some way to allow your child to earn money – and then to give a portion of it away.
Find a cause your child is excited about, and then find out exactly what his or her money can do. For a child, handing over a dollar might be difficult. Encourage them by reminding them things like: “Wow, you just gave the animal shelter a dollar – that buys a homeless doggy food for three days!” or “Hey, your quarters means that a kid in our neighborhood gets to have new crayons to take to school”
This makes the gift tangible, and it allows your child to see that he or she really can make a difference.
5. Find hands-on ways for them to serve.
Ask around to see if there are any places in your area that allow children to volunteer. Try to think of someone in your community who needs something that your family might be able to help with (like gardening or perhaps preparing a meal).
For my children, participating in Operation Christmas Child has been a huge blessing. All year long, they are helping me keep my eye out for great deals “for the kids”. I LOVE to see their faces light up when they see a cute toy, and rather than asking, “Can I have that?”; hearing instead, “Can we PLEASE buy that for shoeboxes?”
Another way they’ve been able to serve is by spreading quarters around town. Loading up peoples’ carts with quarters at Aldi, sticking quarters into vending machines, leaving them in coin-operated cranes, even leaving them taped on vending machines at the hospital — this is such a simple way to serve.
I hope I’ve given you a new idea or two that you can use to teach your children to love giving and serving — EVEN if your budget has little to no wiggle room!
What works for your family?
I’d love to hear your budget-friendly ideas to help your children give back!
Kimber is a wife, a stay-at-home mom, and as of recently, a writer. She blogs at Let’s Do Some Good Today, where she shares practical suggestions of ways you can make a difference in the world. Every Thursday, she posts a new service challenge. She’d love to have you join her!