You can instill a sense of gratitude and generosity in even the youngest of children by teaching them the value of volunteering and giving back. Philanthropy can consist of giving their time or sharing a portion of their allowance for the causes they support.

Here are five ideas for encouraging your kids to become young philanthropists:

1. Find what sparks their interests

To get your child excited about giving, consider engaging them in the decision-making process about which charities to support. For example, if your child likes pets, they might be interested in a local animal rescue group. Once a group is selected, look for opportunities to support them by donating time or money. For extra motivation, you might agree to match the donations your child gives.

2. Create a family tradition

Celebrate a holiday, anniversary, or other event as a family by giving back to those in need. Not only will your kids learn the importance of volunteering and generosity, they’ll also look forward to the event every year.  For example, consider participating in an adopt-a-family holiday program or help fill boxes at a food bank. Or for Earth Day, look for volunteer opportunities in your community. These shared experiences can help teach your kids valuable lessons about the impact of giving back to the community.

3. Volunteer during vacation breaks

Support teens that want to use their summer vacation for a good cause. For teens staying close to home, help them research opportunities to volunteer, such as a local summer camp or at a sports league for kids. If the teen is traveling, parents might encourage them to do some volunteer service and make a difference in the lives of others, whether working with impoverished kids in another country or rebuilding communities affected by storms elsewhere.

4. Get active while giving

Show your kids they can do something good for themselves and for others in need. Participate in a family-friendly one-mile or 5K walk that benefits a cause important to your family. Or, enjoy beautiful spring or summer days by volunteering for a park cleanup project or a local building project.

5. Giving during birthdays

For the next birthday party, encourage your child to ask friends to bring a donation for a favorite charity as their gift. This could include collecting pet food for an animal shelter, books and pajamas for a children’s hospital, or other items relevant to the cause your child wants to support.

For young kids who might not understand the concept of giving rather than receiving birthday gifts, teach the practice of “one given/one received.” In other words, for every new toy your child receives, he or she will donate a gently used one for a child in need. This practice not only instills values into children, but also reduces the amount of clutter in the house – a plus for many parents.

Givers for life

By teaching lessons in gratitude and generosity early on, you can set your kids up for a lifetime of giving back to those in need, to their local communities, and to cherished causes.

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