7 simple steps to nurture a giving child

Wise up to the things you can do as a family, so that helping others becomes a habit for them.

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You’ve probably heard this comment or have even made the observation yourself ― kids today are too entitled and self-absorbed. This “Me” epidemic can be attributed to many things, ranging from a helicopter parenting approach to junior being part of the social media generation.

While a good place to start is to set limits on the time they spend on their device, introducing activities like volunteering and charity will increase their awareness of the world outside. For instance, your kids enjoy many more privileges compared to other children around the world, notes Dr Vaani Gunaseelan, a clinical psychologist at Think Psychological Services.

Doing volunteer work when junior is still young will instil values like empathy and generosity in them, too. Dr Vaani and Daniel Koh, a psychologist at Insights Mind Centre, list other benefits for your child:

* Lets them interact with others who are also doing acts of charity.

* A greater appreciation for what they are lucky enough to enjoy in their own lives.

* They will come into contact with many people when they improve others’ lives and help them, which makes them feel good about themselves.

* Your child will learn that they are part of a larger community and increase their commitment to give back to society.

Using items efficiently cuts wastage of the earth’s precious resources, which is also an act of kindness.

In addition, your child is growing up in a world filled with chaos and uncertainty, especially since there’s always some conflict taking place somewhere in the world at any time. Introduce junior to the others’ suffering and they won’t just feel grateful for their own blessings, they’ll be proud that they can help someone.

Here are activities to introduce the concept of kindness, generosity and charity to your child…

1) Seize opportunities to encourage your preschooler to demonstrate kindness Remind your child to hold the lift door open for others, pick up rubbish, share a toy with his pal or help the elderly neighbour next door with her groceries. By encouraging your mini-me to carry out such simple acts, you are making kindness a part of your family values. Don’t forget to lead by example — saying one thing but doing the opposite will confuse your kid.

2) Tell your child to maximise the use of any item before throwing it away For instance, the next time your little one is doodling on a piece of paper, make sure he doodles on the reverse before discarding it. Using items efficiently cuts wastage of the earth’s precious resources, which is also an act of kindness.

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3) Encourage your preschooler to recycle or upcycle Accumulating a neat pile of newspapers and selling it off to the rag-and-bone man shows your preschooler that recycling and being kind to the environment has payoffs. Alternatively, keep a lookout on the Web for craft projects using discarded items. The process of turning these unwanted items into a piece of valuable art is called upcycling.

4) Volunteer as a family If you are a member of a religious group, ask if everyone in the family can volunteers for events or festivals. Or visit websites like Giving.sg by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre, which lists openings for volunteers at non-profit events. Volunteering teaches your mini-me that time and effort, like money offerings, can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

Donating your possessions will teach your child that one man’s trash may be another man’s treasure.

5) Fund a cause your mini-me is passionate about If your child has shown a special interest in animals, Singapore animal welfare societies rely on donations. Choosing to fund a cause your child is interested in introduces him to the concept of passion. If they are passionate about a cause, they’ll be motivated to give for a long time to come.

6) Make donations to charities You don’t have to make a monetary donation all the time as you can also give away used stuff like your kewpie’s baby clothes and miscellaneous babycare items. Donating your possessions will teach your child that one man’s trash may be another man’s treasure. Just because he no longer needs an item doesn’t make it worthless. Turn this into a bonding activity by getting your offspring to pick out items he no longer likes or wants.

7) Turn your kid’s birthday into an event for charity Tell your tyke that while he has storybooks to read and toys to play with, there are less fortunate children. Next, ask if he’d donate his birthday gifts of books and toys away. Then, deliver these contributions to the welfare organisation with them.

Photos: iStock

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