Doing good for others can have an incredible effect on one’s soul and health. Studies suggest that volunteering can actually increase your lifespan. There has been evidence of lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure through philanthropist activities, as well as reduced stress levels and an increase in protective antibodies. Aside from health benefits, it should go without saying that doing good for your fellow human makes you a happier person and improves your quality of life, but so often nowadays the benefits of giving are overlooked.
It is possible for the pastime of philanthropy to get lost in amongst the abundance of entertainment readily awaiting one’s fingertips. Our spare time is now filled with our favorite TV shows on demand, gaming stations, social media and the like, so much so that people often now feel like they have no time to give to charity work. It’s crucial that we step away from the increasingly instant world and find out what truly makes us deeply happy. In addition to this, parents can become so wrapped up in helping their child to become an over-achiever that time set aside for doing things for others often takes a back seat.
A friend of mine did something very simple with her children to set them on the right path. Instead of giving them $15 dollars a month for their allowance, she gives them both $16 a month, $1 of which has to go to a charity of their choice. When I went over both boys proudly showed me their glass jars full of dollar bills, one jar for the local animal shelter, the other for an anti-bullying charity. I was so impressed, but I was saddened to realized that this small action is in fact a rarity. We convince children that all their pocket money should be spent on the things their parents are reluctant to buy them and that they should spend all their time playing with their purchases.
It’s difficult to encourage a child to want to do something they ordinarily wouldn’t, therefore it is crucial that they have a say as to which charity they want to help. It doesn’t matter what charity it is, whether it’s the RSPCA or coat production for chilly greyhounds, if it’s their choice they’ll be more proud of it. Nudge them towards something in their general interest bracket, for example if they have a love of reading, helping them to organize a book drive at their school for the benefit of other children could be good encouragement, or if they’ve expressed an interest in cooking get them involved in a soup kitchen or bake sale. In the case of acting for a charity rather than just donating money, leading by example will have better results than just telling them what to do. Get involved… you will probably find it fun!
Another way to go (especially if you’ve got a handful of boys to get in line!) is to make it a bit of an inter-sibling competition. See who can raise the most money for their charity and offer a small weekly prize such as sitting in the front seat of the car for the weekend or first choice of movie. You can also assign them character-building tasks to earn extra pennies here and there, such as walking the dog, cleaning their room, brushing their teeth or eating all their greens. Raising money for charity, no matter how much or little, is a great way to bring the family together. You could make it into a game and spend a Sunday afternoon doing a sports day or a treasure hunt, prizes that are fun to achieve that can go into their charity jars.
Everybody wants their children to be the happiest they can be, so encouraging them into a philanthropist mindset early on will give them the tools to continue reaping the benefits of doing good things for others for the rest of their lives. It’s a bit of a quick cheat to help them to become well rounded, hard working, kind and likable human beings, so add philanthropy to your carefully honed parenting tactics and your little ones will hopefully grow up to make you proud!
How do you get your kids involved in giving?