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Bullet Point Parenting

Teaching Kids About Generosity


It's a four-letter word that makes parents cringe. No one teaches his or her kids to be selfish. They just are. It’s part of being born sinful. As parents, it’s our job to teach them the joy of giving. But where do we start?

Paul, a pastor and church planter in the Bible, set an example for us in the way he loved and served the communities where he started churches. In Acts 20:35, Paul tells a group of church leaders, “In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"

In everything — in his time, his words, his money — Paul did his best to pass on the lesson Jesus taught him: Giving is better than receiving. Teaching our kids about generosity isn’t a one-time talk or Sunday school lesson. It’s a value we instill every day, in everything we do.

Tips For Teaching Kids Generosity

  • Be generous yourself. If we want our kids to be generous, we must first model this in the way we live our lives. Let them see you give, whether it’s your tithe to the church, a meal to a friend, or a box of old clothes delivered to charity.
  • Let them pick a project. It’s great to get the whole family involved in a service project, but let the kids decide what kind of project it should be — bringing canned goods to a food bank, participating in a toy drive, raising money for a cause. If your family sponsors a child overseas, consider letting your kids pick the age of the child your family sponsors. The decision might take longer, but kids will be more interested in a project they are invested in.
  • Instill gratitude. Generosity is an overflow of appreciation; greed is an overflow of expectation. Help kids to be thankful for the things they have by donating toys they no longer play with or clothes that no longer fit.
  • Show appreciation for any gift they give you! Your reaction will teach them to feel encouraged, discouraged or indifferent about giving.
  • Talk about why you give. Anytime our kids see us do something, there’s a good chance they are going to ask every parent’s favorite question: Why? Use everyday opportunities to talk about how God has been generous with us and wants us to be generous with others.
  • Invest with them. Encourage kids to save money for a cause that matters to them and benefits others by investing with them. For example, you could give them opportunities to earn money by doing chores with the purpose of giving the money away, then match their gift dollar for dollar.
  • Make anonymous gifts in front of your child. Pay for the person's food behind you in the drive-thru. Supply a need for a teacher by leaving the item on his or her desk. Let your child experience the joy of giving without expecting a thank you in return.
  • Keep it simple. When it comes to managing money, specifically, God gives us three simple steps: give first, save second and spend third. Helping our kids to understand this early on will serve them well for the rest of their lives.

At the end of the day, acts of generosity don't have to be costly to teach priceless lessons. Sharing photos and stories from mission trips help our kids see how blessed we are. Serving an elderly grandparent by helping with yardwork, cleaning and running errands creates a culture of generosity where giving is an essential part of life. Serving others becomes more valuable than being served.

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