The Joy of Giving
Parents often worry that their child is selfish and does not like to be compassionate about others or other children specifically. Before blaming the children, make sure you are setting them the right example to follow. Here are some tips to help the child to be more empathetic towards others and to love giving.
1. Be a role model:
It is essential for the parent to be the role model for the child. When you explain to the child why you do what you do, he/she will learn to see things from another perspective. Research by Mark Ottoni-Wilhelm of Indiana University has underscored that it’s important for parents to have conversations with their kids about generosity.
The research also found that adolescents were 18 percent more likely to donate money to a charitable organization if their parents had made any donation of their own in the past year.
2. Help them understand the need:
For kids to feel compelled to help others, first they have to recognize that their help is actually needed. Studies suggest that kids are more likely to help people in need when they try to see the world through their eyes or identify things they have in common. A personal, human connection to someone makes that person’s needs feel more real, harder to ignore, and thus motivates us to alleviate his or her suffering.
3. Help them see the impact:
A significant finding from studies of adults is that they’ll derive greater happiness from their generosity—and thus be more motivated to give again—if they’re able to see the impact it has on others. Same is applicable to children too.
4. Make it part of who they are:
Research suggests that when people give away something that has greater personal meaning or significance to themselves, they actually feel more committed to the cause they’re supporting and are more likely to keep supporting that cause down the line.
5. Give them choice:
Though there have been some well-intentioned efforts to involve kids in philanthropy through mandatory service-learning programs, evidence suggests those efforts might backfire. When people are forced to do something kind for others, or even subtly coerced to do it through an external reward, they’ll see themselves as less altruistic and thus feel less motivated to help others in the long run.
People feel happier after performing kind, helpful—or “pro-social”—acts only when those acts are voluntary and self-directed; when they feel pressured to help, they feel worse.
(Indebted to various sources)