Dr Richard C. Woolfson
For many children, a desire to give to charity is not an inborn trait, but rather a characteristic that is inculcated through encouragement and experience. Indeed, the act of giving a donation to charity may seem absurd to your child. As far as she is concerned, the money is hers, so she can’t think of any reason that she should give it away to someone else – especially to someone she doesn’t even know.
Don’t be annoyed by that response – it is a normal reaction and simply a reflection of the way she sees the world. You will find, though, that she very quickly understands and accepts the principle of charity once you fully explain it to her.
At this age, she is old enough to understand that not everyone lives in an environment that is as comfortable as hers. When explaining the concept of charity, tell her that it is about sharing her advantages with someone who is in more difficult circumstances. Stress the fact that some children have a lot less than she does – this may come as a genuine surprise to her.
You’ll have greater success in developing her sense of charity if you share real experiences. Give specific examples that she can relate to, rather than remote generalisations. For instance, instead of saying “charity helps poor people”, say: “When you give money to charity, it is used to buy a hungry child some bread to eat.” Emphasise that her charitable donations – whether money, clothes or toys – genuinely make a difference to the recipient.
Your child has a natural caring instinct, despite her initial reluctance to give away some of her possessions or money. – she intuitively likes to help others. Your detailed account of the direct effect of her generosity makes the experience more meaningful for her.
WAYS TO CONTRIBUTE
Suggest that she set aside a certain amount of her pocket money to give to charity. A little is all that is needed – she needs to know that even the smallest amount can improve somebody’s life, and mustn’t feel that the only donations that matter are large ones. Let her count out the actual coins, then give her the opportunity to physically put these in the donation tin herself. You’ll be amazed at how quickly she becomes proud of herself. This practical dimension of charity makes the experience very real for your child.
There are other ways to make her charitable acts practical. For instance, take her with you to the charity shop and let her carry the bags of used clothing and toys that you intend to donate – you can even get her involved in selecting the items to give away. You could also suggest that she and her pals make, say, biscuits or cakes to sell to family and friends, with all the profits going to their favourite charity.
It doesn’t matter what charity she gives to (although you should explain the range of charities available) as long as she understands that it is important to give to others who don’t have as much as she does. Once your child develops the habit of making regular charitable donations, chances are she will continue to do even after she grows up.
Volunteering with your child
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