Tips to Teach Your Child About Giving Back

Do you know that nearly 90 percent of children age 8 to 19 give to charity? The holiday season is a perfect time to involve your whole family in giving, says Children’s National psychologist Eleanor Mackey, PhD.

“Emphasizing gratitude is a good thing for children’s mental health as well as a good way to prepare them for being good citizens throughout their lives,” Dr. Mackey said. One of the best ways to teach gratitude, she says, is demonstrating that giving is a priority for you. You can do this by talking about your own values, sharing information about the organizations you support, and talking about how your donations are used.

Children whose parents talk to their children about giving back are 20 percent more likely to give than parents who don’t, according to research by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. According to the study, “That finding hold true regardless of the child’s sex, age, race, and family income. Girls and boys are equally likely to make monetary gifts to charity; however, girls are more likely than boys to volunteer, a pattern that continues in adulthood.

Dr. Mackey suggests asking your children to pick a piece of clothing or a toy they no longer need to give to a child who has less than they do. Another way to instill compassion is to get your child involved in a program or event that helps other children, such as charity walks and fundraising efforts organized by other children.

At Children’s National, many patients and former patients choose to give back to help other children who need medical care. Here are some opportunities to get your child involved:

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