Most parents and teachers have had that moment when we’ve seen a child, perhaps even our own child, show a truly non-generous side. The toy is snatched away from the outstretched hands of another child who wants to play. Candy is hidden away in a pocket with a defiant, “Mine!” Even older children and teens can show this lack of generosity, although with older kids it usually manifests itself through greediness of time and not including others who really need to be included. Here are some thoughts and ways we can go about generating generosity.
Where is the Generosity?
Where does this lack of generosity come from? We don’t consciously teach our kids to be this way. Lack of generosity, like darkness, is not really a thing of itself, but rather what is left in the absence of something else. Darkness is the absence of light and selfishness is the absence of generosity. So while you may not have purposely taught your children to be greedy, it is just what naturally happens when you do not teach them the alternative.
Lead By Example
We might not want to admit this, but a lot of our children’s selfishness is learned from us. How often have we had the opportunity to help someone but have chosen not to? Have our children heard us complaining when we “must” help someone out when it is inconvenient to us? These seemingly insignificant moments are teaching our children important lessons. Be conscious of how you handle helping or giving opportunities and how you discuss these with your children.
Although children do learn well by example, simply being generous yourself may not be enough. Kids need to be actively involved in acts of generosity so that they can see it in action. When you are personally involved in acts of generosity there is an emotion generated inside of you that cannot be duplicated or simply explained. You need to feel this for yourself. Your children need to feel this for themselves as well. Get your children actively involved in activities where they have the opportunity to be generous to others.
Although generosity should be a part of our lives all year long, this time of year in particular, people begin to think of ways they can give back or give more. Let this be a time to start a new spirit of generosity in your family that will continue though the entire year.
You can see all of the articles by Sarah on Sunday School Zone.