Four Ways to Cultivate Generosity in Children
By Amanda DeWitt
Around this time of year, children make their Christmas lists and check them twice. They marvel at the images that flash up on our screens. They notice the latest gadgets in store windows. Then they go back to their lists and add a few more things.
As parents we do our best to keep the holidays focused on faith, family, and generosity. But all the sparkles and displays can quickly shift our thinking. It takes time and intentionality to teach our children about giving — not just at Christmastime but all year long.
Here are four ways you can cultivate generosity in your home and pass it on to the next generation.
Create a personal rhythm
Generosity starts with us. As with most lessons in life, it is both caught and taught. Children need to see their parents, grandparents, and mentors modeling generosity.
Serve in your community. Give spontaneously when you see a need. Do something tangible to help out a neighbor.
Encourage the little ones in your life to join in too. As you work together, talk about the reasons why you give and difference it makes in others’ lives.
Do not wait for Christmas to come around. Make giving a normal part of your routine throughout the year. Look for ways to be generous and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. Allow the holidays to be just one of the many times when you serve and give to those in need.
Start when they are small
From an early age, teach your children that they can make a difference. Sit down as a family and choose projects to support that are important to each of you. Then work together to achieve your giving goals.
If your child wears glasses, consider providing individuals in developing countries with eyeglasses so they can learn or work. If your child loves to cook, consider ways to provide those who lack adequate nutrition with meals. If your child has a favorite blanket, consider giving warm blankets to those in need.
Let everyone be a part. Allow children to contribute money from their piggy bank or allowance. Let them do extra chores to help. Go shopping together for the items you will donate. Help your children see how their generous gift makes an impact.
Our world is full of big needs. But even the smallest among us can do something to help when they realize the opportunities and the impact they can make.
Educate them appropriately
Our children see a lot. They notice when a classmate goes hungry in the cafeteria. They ask questions about local news stories on TV. They sense when a world event has us worried and wondering how to respond.
They take it all in, but they do not always understand. They need parents and teachers to educate them carefully and lovingly.
As much as possible, let your children hear information from you. Explain important world events in age-appropriate ways. Talk to them about the people in your community — or around the world — who are suffering. Encourage questions and offer a patient, thoughtful response.
Take them back to the Bible. Talk about suffering and generosity from a biblical perspective. Explore hard questions together. Remind them that God has given each of us an opportunity to relieve suffering and reveal hope.
Equip them to make a difference
Children want to fix the world’s problems and injustices. Together we can teach them how.
Parents, grandparents, teachers, and mentors have the opportunity to model generosity, to call it out when they see it courageously displayed, to train the next generation about how to leverage it to create change.
Talk about practical ways we can fix injustice. Discuss ways we can tangibly serve those in need. Do something together to make an impact.
Enjoy the holiday season as a time of giving and gratitude. Let your child make their Christmas wish list. But then pull out a second sheet of paper — and make a list of the ways you can give generously to relieve suffering and reveal hope to those in need.
Share Help and Hope This Christmas
Looking for a simple way to relieve suffering and reveal hope? Download our FREE Giving Cards! Use them to create a giving tree for your classroom, host a family gift exchange, or plan a giving project with your children. We have provided everything you need to simply and tangibly serve those living in the toughest places.
Published October 30, 2023
Amanda is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Gift for Leadership, Kindred Spirit, and Christianity Today publications. She holds a M.A. in Media and Communication from Dallas Theological Seminary.