As my children grow, I’m working very hard to instill in them a spirit of kindness and generosity – the kind of generosity that doesn’t require material things or cash. I’m trying to teach my kids that when it comes to giving back, money only plays a small part of the equation. 90% of giving is all about heart.
This is a complex lesson for kids to learn, and the best way for them to learn it is by example. Here are some of the ways you can teach your kids how to give from the heart.
FIND A CAUSE
The first step is to dig deep, and find a cause that resonates with you – something that you genuinely believe in and care for. The rest will naturally follow.
DECLUTTER & DONATE
Trimming down what I have to the few things that are absolutely essential have always been therapeutic for me. It helps me focus on what’s important, and also makes me keenly aware how much we live in excess. Partner with your kids to go through your house and set aside things you no longer need. Kids have a much easier time parting with their things if they know that they’ll be helping someone else in the process.
Next, identify a list of organizations that would appreciate your donations, help your child understand their missions, then let your kids choose where their items will go.
VOLUNTEER YOUR SKILLS AND TALENT
Teaching skills and building a hopeful mindset can be life-changing both to the giver and receiver.
Look for any opportunity to teach someone about something that’s close to your heart. If you’re a computer whiz, teach a senior citizen some of your skills. Maybe you’re a great basketball player – think about coaching an underprivileged or understaffed team. Each of us has something special to share with others. Bring your kids to these teaching moments, and they’ll be inspired to share their own special skills and talents as they grow.
OPEN YOUR HOME
Opening your home is a simple way to show kindness. Whether you’re welcoming neighbors who lost power, or offering a distant friend stranded at the airport a place to stay, kids will have much to learn from guests, and from your community spirit.
BE AN AMBASSADOR
I like to say that acts of kindness are caught rather than taught. Prioritize teaching kindness to your little ones, and beyond talking about it, live it. Don’t just spread the word about meaningful causes, take steps to support them! Let your actions speak for themselves.
EXERCISE YOUR KINDNESS MUSCLE DAILY
The smallest acts of kindness can be contagious. There is immense courage in choosing to be kind on a daily basis, especially with our busy schedules. Smile at everyone with your heart on your sleeve. Give someone who’s feeling down a warm hug. Hold the elevator open for someone. Say hi to your neighbors and get to know them.
Kindness is also an emotional muscle — so the more we practice it, the stronger it gets. Being intentionally kind helps us reframe everyone through a more compassionate lens, and from that lens, we realize that we’re all humans trying to make things work during our limited time on this earth. Why not make it a pleasant journey for everyone?
I like to tell my kids that if the heart is full, it matters less that the hands are empty. A willing heart makes anything possible.
How do you show your kids how to pass kindness on?
Steph Tan is a Senior Financial Analyst with Consumer Finance in Asia Pacific. She loves photography, food, and meaningful travel, and is constantly inspired by her two daughters.