Serenity G. was five years old when she saw people in her community living without shelter and decided to act. What started as passing out soup and hot chocolate with her grandmother grew into founding her own charity at age seven, Serenity’s Grace. Now in high school, Serenity and her peers at Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Florida work together to distribute groceries, toiletries, clothing and even furniture to over 1,000 people each week who have experienced homelessness.
Serenity is far from alone as a young person wanting to help those around her. 82% of youth believe they can make a difference in their community, as reported by Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
However, youth can sometimes lose sight of what it means to be grateful and generous, especially around the holidays, which leaves many parents wondering: How do I teach my child the importance of giving? Can generosity even be taught? Absolutely! Go beyond constant reminders to “say thank you” with flexible activities that allow youth to witness and take pride in the effects of their giving back.
Five Activities That Teach Children How To Be Generous
Share Stories About People Giving Back
Stories are a goldmine for finding role models who can teach children about generosity. Reading children’s books about characters who perform selfless acts will inspire little kids to do the same. Older youth may find meaning in YouTube channels, shows or podcasts that share stories about different people doing good around the world. Teens on social media can even follow accounts that raise awareness about issues they care about, like mental health or climate change, and be motivated to get involved with movements or organizations addressing them.
Make & Deliver Homemade Cards & Care Packages
Showing youth that even the smallest gesture can mean the world to someone else can help inspire routine generosity in their lives. Making homemade cards for others is a low-pressure place to start, like penning thank-you notes for service workers or get well soon cards for hospital patients. Build on this momentum by preparing care packages for homeless shelters or nursing homes. By showering folks with heartfelt messages, drawings, essential items and other tokens of appreciation, youth are building their empathy and responsiveness to when they see someone in need.
Support Animals & Local Organizations that Care for Them
For more introverted youth or those who simply love animals, donating time or items to organizations that care for animals can be a great way to spark the joy of giving. Visit your local shelter and offer to take the dogs there for a walk. Youth can also buy (or make!) cat toys or bake dog biscuits to donate. Get creative by building DIY birdfeeders for the backyard and giving one to everybody in the neighborhood to help preserve local wildlife. These activities are not only fun but will inspire youth to be caring and generous to all living things.
Help Someone in Your Neighborhood
Your child doesn’t need to go far to learn the importance of giving back. Make their actions feel more personal by encouraging them to get to know and help out their neighbors. This can involve doing physical chores like yardwork or dropping off groceries or an emotional kindness like inviting a person over for dinner with your family. Building relationships is an essential part of teaching generosity and can open the door for young people to assess larger needs in their community.
Join a Community Group Project
One of the most effective ways for youth to understand the importance of giving back to the community is simple: by participating in a volunteer group project! Help them organize a collection drive for essential items – food, books, clothes, hygiene products, sports equipment, etc. – to round up and donate to a local charity. Get your hands dirty by working with them on a restoration or beautification project such as: building a little free library, stocking a community fridge, painting a town mural, cleaning up a park or setting up recycling bins at school. No matter what the project is, kids and teens won’t soon forget their sense of achievement in making their community a better place.
A wise person once said, “how you give affects how you live.” At Boys & Girls Clubs, youth of all ages are not only encouraged to give back but take the lead on service projects that matter to them most through programs like Torch Club (ages 11-13), Keystone Club (ages 14-18) and Youth of the Year.
All young people have the potential to be compassionate leaders and problem-solvers. By raising generous kids, we are one step closer to creating a kinder generation capable of changing our communities, our country and the world.