Children have a natural desire to help others. Charity does not have to be formalised but can be as simple as a kindly act, a helping hand or a friendly smile to someone in need.
At around the age of three or four, young children begin to grasp the concept of sharing and become aware of others around them and their needs. They can also experience the joy of giving for the first time. Becoming alive to and accommodating the desires of others in their household is the earliest point at which the concept of helping others will begin to make sense to a small child.
Charity begins at home
Many children become interested in helping others because they see their parents doing it. It is all part of the natural desire to imitate. It may be as simple as putting aside a couple of tins of food each week for the local food bank or sorting out old clothes for homeless people. Baking cakes for a fund raising coffee morning like the famous Macmillan coffee morning initiative is a great way to involve all the members of the family in a charitable act.
Many homes have rituals surrounding their charitable giving. The predictability and regularity of routines give children security and comfort and a sense of belonging. Children relate best to charities which have some connection with their lives. So linking up to a charity and actually sponsoring another child in a different country is a great way to connect your child to something they will understand.
What character traits can charitable acts develop in your child?
Thinking of others instils in children empathy and compassion for their fellow man. This is likely to be something they carry with them into adulthood if charitable acts are engrained in their daily life during childhood. They are far more likely to get involved in volunteering projects as an adult. As children grow into teenagers, charitable giving needs to be relevant to their fast-paced digital world. CAF, the Charities Aid Foundation stresses that it is important to make charitable involvement appealing and portable so that it can adapt to different stages in their lives.
It’s not all about money
Charity does not have to be about giving money, it can include spending time collecting items to donate, volunteering some hours for a community project or taking turns running the cake stall at a local fete or fundraiser.
Sponsoring a child
Charity mostly needs to be relevant to children. Raising money for a cause they don’t understand will have little impact but involving them in something relevant to their world encourages interest and engagement.
For example, sponsoring a child with Compassion UK allows a child to connect with another child across the world, the simplest and most fundamental link. Children are always interested in one another and are refreshingly open-minded. Linking with another child in a community far away fosters links with the wider world. The digital age makes this connection real and immediate. The impact on a child in poverty is inestimable and the connection made by one child to another across the globe, simple and powerful.
Tangible and real
For many children, the key to successful involvement in charitable schemes is something tangible that acts as a reward for their efforts. This can be an outcome that they are physically involved in within their community or school but it can also involve remote schemes which they can see online or in hard copy format in their hand.