How to Teach Kids Kindness and Generosity the Spring Cleaning Way

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
April 23, 2021
how to teach kids kindness

When we grow older and wiser, we realize that life itself has a lot of demands. It can be even harder for the less fortunate. That’s why it’s important to learn how to teach kids kindness and generosity so they can develop the habit of giving back at an earlier stage.

Parents are familiar with teaching their kids how to share. Whether you agree with sharing in every aspect or not, knowing how to teach kids kindness is different. With this development, children will hopefully find it easier to navigate their stress and be part of something good in life.

With the pandemic affecting our lives so deeply, the concepts of kindness and generosity have changed a bit. We can’t take our kids to volunteer at soup kitchens or anywhere else so easily. So, it’s time to think outside of the box. It might even be possible to complete their toy storage and spring cleaning along the way! Here are just a few creative ideas for parents on how to teach kids kindness.

How to Teach Kids Kindness and Generosity: Some Tips to Do It Right

If you’ve never actively thought about how to teach kids kindness until now, there’s no need to worry. We all learn a lot as our children grow up. Hopefully, implementing the following tips even if you’re on a family spring break will help you feel more satisfied as parents and as decent human beings.

Don’t be afraid to start early

Even if a child isn’t going to school yet, you can still learn how to teach kids kindness and teach the same to your little one. They might not think about certain actions as being generous or kind at the moment. But kids are quick to pick up on cues. Most children will interpret a smile of delight and joy when they make a card for someone or share baked goods with a neighbor.

Matching the activity with the child’s age is a good idea here. For instance, a young child might “donate” her drawing to a lonely neighbor. Painting a kindness rock and leaving it on a doorstep could be a fun and memorable activity as well.

When the kids get a little older, they can start having a savings jar for their monetary donations. You can explain setting a little aside for those in need whenever they get their allowance or a cash gift. Advise them about splitting the money into saving, donating, and spending categories. But you shouldn’t force them if they're not ready.

Have a talk

Kids grow up fast; it’s easy to forget just how much they absorb in a single minute. If you’re looking for how to teach kids kindness and generosity, start by talking about these concepts. Mention charity projects, volunteer programs, and donating items while you're carrying out your daily tasks.

When the discussions at home are about charity, kids will feel more confident about giving what they can. They’re also more likely to seek out items or ways to give. You have a lot of conversations with your kids every single day. So, you should try focusing on how other people will benefit from their generosity and kindness.

One good example here is to set up an empty box before you start your spring cleaning. Mark it “Donations” or “Giving Back” or whatever label you think is best. When you’re cleaning out the closets and giving away items that are no longer in use, kids will observe you. Discuss the box and the act of donations and have them pitch in with the cleaning to put things in the donations box.

Another important step here is to appreciate the child in a way that they internalize kindness and charity as part of their character. Tell them how caring, kind, and generous they are instead of attributing these qualities to the act of giving itself.

Set an example

This might seem like an obvious point, but it’s still worth talking about. Children mimic what they see their parents doing. So, we need to show them passive actions. That way, they’d be able to regularly contribute to charity when they grow up.

When you do give in any way, make sure your kids know about it. That doesn’t mean you should brag. All you have to do is talk about the action with the children. For instance, you can donate a few dollars. Talk to the kids about how these dollars will help with someone’s medical treatment.

You can also teach them about being responsible while donating. That could include itemizing the donations and getting a tax return on them, decluttering, making do with what you have, and other beneficial habits.

Be a team

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Parents can learn how to teach kids kindness and generosity by engaging in positive acts as a team. That way, you can also set up a situation where it's natural and easy to talk about generous acts.

Many kids love to be involved with any DIY project. So, make full use of that quality. If your child is a bit older, have them make a poster or write an email about a drive you’re organizing together. If they’re a bit younger, see if they can hand out flyers, set out the items, or just be helpful in any way.

Give attention to other aspects

Knowing how to teach kids kindness also involves giving them time in unrelated activities. If you only give them attention when they're involved in charitable acts, the concepts of kindness and generosity will be mixed with wanting your approval. In a way, this makes it a rewards system for being kind. In the long run, it doesn’t translate to true generosity or empathy.

Instead of spending all your time together in charitable acts, you should set a regular time for taking a walk once a week. You can also play their favorite game by letting them use this colors board game, go on a picnic, or just enjoy each other’s company in other ways. That will also help the child realize what it’s like to be on the receiving end of generosity. It will motivate them even further.

Have online options

Not every child likes to be in direct contact with the people they’re helping. Some might feel shy, embarrassed, or uncomfortable. Other children might be limited in their mobility due to sickness or a disability. It’s important to validate all these situations and provide alternatives when researching how to teach kids kindness.

Technology is a huge part of our lives now, and most kids are comfortable using it. Instead of volunteering at an orphanage, for instance, your child can make their videos and teach other kids what they know. This might include teaching a skill like drawing, origami, reading a story, or showing how to make a useful project.

Get relevant books

Books are an impactful way to instill ideas in kids. You can utilize this resource for teaching generosity. Many parents even read to their children when they're in the womb. But it’s never too late to start. Take a look around and choose books with interesting stories related to generosity, kindness, and helping others.

With this investment, your child will be able to enjoy themselves and pick up valuable lessons along the way. Ask your local community, a trusted circle of friends, or visit a good site for excellent recommendations at every age.

Introduce the “Paying it Forward” concept

When your child knows the value of money and time, they’ll appreciate it when someone else does them a favor. If and when that happens, make sure you help them pay it forward. It will help the child feel the gratification of making someone else happy.

Show them the impact

Giving money or time to a charitable organization is all very well. But we feel even better when the positive effects are in front of us. Even toddlers get happy when they give a bite of food to an animal or puppets. So, let’s make use of this information when we plan how to teach kids kindness.

Having kids see the fruits of their actions might be a bit tricky. But it’s worth taking the first step. For instance, if a child puts aside a few dollars to donate, take them to the grocery store and buy some useful items with that money. You can then take them to the food bank and donate the items there. While the kid still doesn't see the final recipient benefiting from their donation, the activity is a more involved than transferring that money to a charity account.

Another way to showcase these positive effects include showing your kid letters of thanks from an orphanage or homeless shelter. You can also ask the organization for some photos to show them to the little one and encourage them to go for another act of kindness.

Allow some choice

Mandatory charity programs might have the best intentions behind them. But they're not effective for the long run. Making it a must to donate or volunteer, even with the promise of a reward at the end, tends to make people less motivated to be altruistic when they get older.

Since we want to know how to teach kids kindness for the long run, it might be better to let them act voluntarily. They'll probably need guidance to start with. But it’s wise to involve them in the conversation and give them some choice.

This might involve reminding them (and yourself!) that giving comes in many forms. You can ask whether they’d like to have some hands-on time volunteering, donate some money, or scout out items to give away. Some activities will be more suited to certain ages than others. But giving kids some choice will help them feel better about their generosity instead of resenting it.

Make generosity a part of life

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Many of us are too familiar with giving up on a healthy habit. We let gym memberships expire; our schedules are too packed for outdoor relaxation – you get the gist.

However, the matter now is about how to teach kids kindness and generosity so that the concept lasts. If you want to inculcate such habits in your child, it’s time to make it all a part of your daily life and routine.

People are more likely to feel committed to giving to a certain cause when they donate something of personal significance. You can take note from this fact and see how your kids can help out others through their own talents and interests.

For example, if a child loves books, they’d also love working around books and donating them. Help them out in organizing a book drive where all the proceeds go to charity. In this way, putting in some efforts and donating time doesn’t seem like a chore but a delightful way to help others.

In a nutshell, integrating philanthropy with your kids’ interests is more likely to make the concept a part of their life. If they want to, donating something that’s precious to them might be even more instrumental in making generosity a part of their identity.

Taking the First Step Is Easier Than You Think

Not all of the points here might be applicable when it comes to how to teach kids kindness. Some families might have the extra money to invest in purchasing certain items for those in need; others can donate what they have after proper sanitization and cleaning. Children might also require you to explain the concept of money at some point. So, let them in on the subject. Establishing an allowance is a great start; it might be better to give it in exchange for the things they donate to others.

In any case, it’s the thought and effort that counts along with the valuable life lesson on kindness, generosity, and empathy. Begin with the tips that seem easiest. Taking the first step might seem challenging, but their kindness will pay dividends for a lifetime.

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