Most parents rue the day their child learned the word “mine.” That single word can transform a magnanimous toddler into a greedy child. Almost all kids pass through a phase of gimme-gimmes, when every item they touch becomes part of their personal wealth. However, without parent intervention, the seemingly harmless gimme-gimmes can develop into selfishness and conceit that persists into adulthood.
Unfortunately, studies show that kids are inherently greedy — but many parents don’t realize it. The problem is that little of charity dissipate, they go right back to being all-for-one. However, parents can learn something from this research: teaching kids to do good requires more than expectations and pats on the head.
It is possible for a child to shed that selfish inclination and grow into a good person, but parents should be careful about the lessons they teach their children about being charitable. These habits and behaviors will help whole families learn about giving back and doing good.
“It is possible for a child to shed
that selfish inclination and grow into
a good person, by teaching your children
about being charitable.”
Cultivate a Community
The first step in raising magnanimous kids is imbuing in them a sense of community. Children thrive when they have several close, reliable relationships; they have more experiences with different lifestyles from their own and develop stronger empathy. Therefore, you should strive to become friendly with your neighbors and cultivate a community in which to raise your child.
Ideally, your community will have sharing and helping at its core. You should be willing to give your neighbors aid when they need it, and you should feel comfortable asking for assistance when you need it. Your children should be involved in community activities, like yardwork, rummage sales, and other simple tasks. Through this interaction, your kids should learn about the Golden Rule and understand it to their core.
Find Causes to Fight for
Every kid is passionate about something, be it video games, animals, science, drawing, or something else. You should work with your little ones to find causes that integrate those passions with doing good. Then, your child will feel compelled to work for those causes, either by volunteering or donating. Some kid-friendly causes include:
- A Million Thanks. Your kid can write thank you letters to American military service members.
- The Sierra Club. Your kid can enjoy the outdoors and learn about sustainable practices.
- The ASPCA. Your kid can volunteer at shelters, helping feed and clean homeless pets.
- The Children’s Defense Fund. Your kid can help other kids find shelter, food, and education.
Donate, Donate, Donate
Kids are monkeys at heart, and when monkeys see, they tend to do. As a parent, you have a responsibility to practice what you preach, which means being generous and avoiding greed in your own habits. Fortunately, being charitable is also good for your home and bank account. You can work with your kids to clean out the most cluttered areas of your home — the garage, the attic, the basement, the closets, etc. — and amass a collection of unwanted items to donate. You can give away big things like your unused family boat and small things, like your kids’ old baby clothes. You should repeat this activity at least once a year to keep your home and garage clean and maximize your good-doings.
Another behavior important for parents is being kind and considerate. Everyone deserves respect, and your kids can learn this by watching you show compassion and reverence to everyone you encounter. Instead of disparaging the homeless around your grocery store, you might engage them in conversation or pass them a dollar or two. Likewise, you should avoid raging at drivers when stuck in traffic or mocking adults you disagree with at your kids’ school. If you show care in your speech and action, your kids will, too.
Establish Consequences for Greediness
It is most important to teach kids good behavior, but you should devote some effort to quashing incipient bad behavior, too. Whenever your kids act with greed, they should experience negative consequences. For example, failure to share their toys might mean they aren’t allowed to have those playthings for a whole day. Additionally, for every new toy they get, they should have to give away something old and unused. This should combat hoarding behavior and discourage them from being stingy with siblings and friends.
Make Them Work for It
Kids don’t know that nothing is free, but you can help them learn that lesson early by making them work for every treat and toy. Together with your kids, you can research the items they most want, like new game systems or trendy accessories, and help them make a plan for earning the necessary cash. This not only quells greed, but it helps kids learn vital personal finance skills they’ll need throughout life.
How are you teaching your kids to be less greedy and give back?
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