Generosity reflects the beauty and nobility of humanity. The satisfaction of giving, without expecting anything in return, touches an otherwise unreachable part of our souls.
Set an Example
Children look to their parents for inspiration on how to behave. Generous acts aren’t limited to gifts of money, also including donations of time, effort, and attention. Show that kindness can (and should) be the standard. Open and hold doors. Let someone go before you in line. Offer a seat to an elderly or pregnant woman. Develop a family routine of periodically donating toys, clothes, and food. Shovel snow from an elderly neighbor’s driveway. How good is the gratification we feel from having helped someone in need?
Encourage children to consider the wants and needs of others. Praise selflessness. Discuss the many selfish, greedy, or fickle motives some folks might have for being stingy—contrast these with how we feel when we give. Use real-life examples to show how we can make a difference, for others and for ourselves.
As children mature, we can and should teach them that mainstream media and advertising agencies try to shape our thinking in ways that leave us wanting more and more. While they’re still young, help them learn that we will never be satisfied by the relentless pursuit of material possessions; we can only quench our thirst by giving. Generosity offers fulfillment.
Happiness, Empathy, & Human Understanding
Giving nurtures feelings of happiness, meaning, and purpose. Rather than focusing on our own selfish ambitions, we develop empathy and emotional intelligence by focusing on others. Children tend to have naturally self-serving dispositions; learning about generosity can be an important milestone that introduces new levels of human understanding.
For children, generosity often begins with sharing toys. By setting some ground rules, mothers can minimize conflict and maximize sharing. If our child is playing with a toy that another child would like to play with, we can coach the children with the expectation that our child will give the toy to them in five minutes. When five minutes have passed, our child must give the toy to the other child (mom is to encourage—but NOT facilitate the transfer). As children develop more of a sharing mentality, they are far less likely to try taking toys away from other children, liberating themselves from possessive tendencies as part of the learning process.
Remember the words of English clergyman, John Wesley,
“Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can.”
“But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” —2 Corinthians 9:6-7 ASV
This delightful book is designed to start conversations with kids about generosity. The words are intentionally spare, meant to be read interactively, with adults posing questions so kids can guess what’s happening (and why). Praised by parents and teachers for sparking imagination and eliciting discussion, the story can be interpreted differently in every family, by every child.
The Generosity Factor is the story of a meeting between the Broker—a young man on his way up the corporate ladder who has the illusion of success, yet deep inside feels insignificant—and the Executive—the CEO of a very large and successful company who claims the greatest joy in his life is his ability to give to others. Providing a unique twist on what it means to thrive in business, at home, and in life, this story will forever change your definition of success.
After World War II there is little left in Katje’s town of Olst in Holland. Her family, like most Dutch families, must patch their old worn clothing and go without everyday things like soap and milk. One spring morning, Katje receives a mysterious box—from America! Full of soap, socks, and chocolate, the box has been sent by Rosie, an American girl from Indiana. Her package is part of a goodwill effort to help the people of Europe. What’s inside so delights Katje that she sends off a letter of thanks—beginning an exchange that swells with so many surprises that the girls, as well as their townspeople, will never be the same.
PLEASE NOTE: As an Amazon Associate, Mothers Truly Matter earns from qualifying purchases. The information in this post should not be construed as providing specific psychiatric, psychological, or medical advice, but rather to offer readers information to better understand the lives and health of themselves and their children. It is not intended to provide an alternative to professional treatment or to replace the services of a physician, psychiatrist, or psychotherapist.