In our age of consumerism, many grandparents worry that kids are more focused on getting than giving. But older relatives can have a positive influence in this area. Here are 5 steps to help your grandkids learn the importance of giving to others. (Before bringing up this — or any other — topic with your grandkids, be sure to discuss it with their parents.)
1. Teach by example. Starting at about age 3 or 4, your grandchildren's values and choices are shaped by the examples their parents and grandparents provide. You are their role models: What are they learning from you when it comes to giving? Children are frequently unaware when their elders are engaged in charitable giving — you write a check or do volunteer work when they are not around. Next time, explain to your grandkids how you chose a cause for a donation, tell them about the fun you had volunteering (or take them with you) or ask for a donation in lieu of a gift at birthday or holiday time. Don't be afraid to show that sometimes giving involves sacrifices of time and money. Show them with enthusiasm the pride and satisfaction that being generous brings you.
2. Charity begins at home. Help grandkids learn how to be giving by helping older family members or neighbors with chores. Encourage them to help their siblings with projects. When it's birthday party time, suggest that they ask their friends to bring a book or a toy to donate locally or give "giving cards" that encourage acts of kindness as party favors. Include a charity gift card they can use to make a donation to the charity of their choice along with your gifts to them. Work with grandchildren on a regular basis to give away clothing, toys, books and technology they are no longer using. Make sure they understand it's not just about getting rid of old things — it's about giving them to people in need.
3. Build on interests. We all feel more passionate about giving our time and money to causes that are meaningful to us. What are your grandchildren really into? Animals? Help them go to the local animal shelter to clean cages, pet and feed animals or donate towels, food or toys. Is the outdoors their great love? Show them how to donate to environmental causes or volunteer at a local park. Will they connect the most with other children? Introduce them to children's charities across the globe, or give them a Karito Kids doll, which includes ways to donate to international children's charities online. They can also get their friends and school involved in giving to other schools through Donors Choose, an online charity that connects donors to classrooms with specific needs.