Children learn the value of showing appreciation and giving back from the examples their parents give them. In turn, giving back is something we have learned from watching others show appreciation.
Robert Cialdini, a professor emeritus of psychology at Arizona State University, explains the natural inclination to give back after you have been gifted as the “rules of reciprocation.” In a recent report on NPR.org, Cialdini said, “We are obligated to give back to others, the form of behavior that they have first given to us. Essentially thou shall not take without giving in return.”
According to TeachKidsHow.com, parents can instill an understanding of appreciation and reciprocation with their children when they are as young as 2 years-old, possibly younger. If you’re interested in engaging your children in activities that accentuate the joy in giving back to their community, here are a few ideas to inspire you.
Favorite Charity Giving
Find a few charities that support the values that you want to teach your children. Charities like Ed Young‘s Winning Walk non-profit Christian ministry organization or the SickKids Foundation might be good choices; especially if you want to teach your child the value of helping others. If you want to make the idea of giving a gift more creative and fun, many charities will allow you to make a donation that will go toward a specific item. SickKids Foundation has an online catalog that has gift options like buying books for the children’s reading room at a hospital or art supplies for sick children. Letting your child choose from charities such as Pastor Young’s or SickKids Foundation teaches your child to make informed decisions on giving to those in need and strengthens their sense of empathy and community.
If your children like to draw or paint, encourage them to make cards to give to clients in a homeless shelter or patients in a nursing home. Explain how you feel it’s everybody’s responsibility to care for our fellow man and how wonderful it feels to express care and concern for others. Then give them craft supplies like glitter, bright markers and kid-safe paints, construction paper and scissors and let them have at it, being careful not to criticize their efforts – this is their project, not yours. If possible, let them hand out their cards, so they can feel the joy that comes with giving.
The Power of Example
Finally, teaching your child to show appreciation can be as easy as setting an example. Read what other people think about giving back and borrow their good ideas, and remember to praise your children’s simple gestures of appreciation. Give them lots of hugs and kisses to show them that giving back can feel as good as receiving.
[About the author: Michelle Houser is a mother of two awesome kids who keep her on her toes and full of great material for kids rooms.]