Teaching Young Children to Give

Tuesday , 4, December 2012 2 Comments

I’m currently reading Kisses from Katie. Have you heard about this book, and its author, Katie Davis? In a nutshell, Katie moved to Uganda after high school to teach kindergarten for a year, and 4 years later, she’s an adoptive mom to 14 young girls there. The book is at times heartbreaking to read, because I often have a hard time wrapping my head around how I’ve never really TRULY wanted for anything, and yet, there are people on this planet who don’t have much more than a cardboard box to call home. Believe me-I know you don’t have to go as far as Uganda to see this.

Anyway, the book has me thinking a lot about giving, especially this time of year. How do I teach and instill a giving spirit to my children, who don’t know what it’s like to go hungry? To be cold at night? To not have a roof over their heads?

I certainly don’t have the answers to these questions. At best, I’m figuring out the “big ideas” of parenting as I go along. But here are some things that will hopefully foster a sense of charity and giving in my children:

1. Giving their own things away

As you know, I go through a whole-house declutter a few times a year. About a year and a half ago, I gave Big Sister the responsibility of choosing things to add to the donate pile. I explain that some children don’t have as many toys to love as she does and that toys that she does not play with deserve to be loved by someone else. The same goes for clothes.

2. Participating in Toys for Toys, Angel Trees, or Operation Christmas Child boxes

We have done this for the past two years by letting Big Sister pick out the toy or the items on the Angel Tree list. I’m not sure she actually “gets” it but like I said, the point is to plant the seed.

3. Giving time

One of my favorite memories with my mom is when we helped at a Volunteer Day at a high school nearby. It didn’t cost us a dime, but we spent the entire day helping pull up weeds outside, paint bathroom inside, move school furniture, and the like. At the end of the day the school received a much needed makeover, and I was left with the notion that giving doesn’t always have to be about money or things. While I don’t think my children are quite old enough to be handing out soup at a soup kitchen or making over a run-down school, I do brainstorm a lot how we could put this into action, especially now that Big Sister is old enough for some responsibility. This is something I’d like to have as a goal for 2013, and if you have any ideas on age-appropriate volunteering, I’d love to hear them!


How about you? What do you do in your house to help teach your children to give?


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  • Pam McVey says:

    This touches my heart today especially. Yesterday Rachel called to tell me she was taking supper to a friend who has not gotten much sleep lately since she has a new baby. Giving doesn’t just have to be to those needy of material things. It can also be doing thoughtful things to help make life easier for someone we know. I think you have made a good start in planting the seed of kindness to your children. They learn from teaching AND example.

  • Jamie says:

    I love what you’re doing with your children. “Train up a child in the way they should go….” needs to start young! Through training in the girls’ organization at my church while growing up, we were taught that we should tithe our time and personalities, as well as our money. I’ve tried to do that, and impart those lessons to my children by example. My 24 year old daughter (in grad school) collects unwanted clothing from her friends to donate to charities. She and I volunteered together helping the homeless with their resumes at Thanksgiving. Seeing the compassion my kids have for others warms this mother’s heart!