Charitable Kids

Children are natural at showing empathy and compassion. If we observe closely, we can easily spot a little toddler comforting his crying friend, or a pre-schooler consoling her friend who fell down in the playground. Just as we take care to nurture their physical development, their innate sense of charity and compassion need to be nurtured as well. This is important as the ability to read social cues and to respond appropriately to them is important for children’s social development.

It’s a good idea to open the children’s minds and let them know that there are people who are less fortunate compared to them. And at the same time, on the other end, there are also a huge charitable community who are always performing good deeds even to the people they do not know, and that they can be a part of this charitable community. Through these practices, they will learn to grow out of the ‘Give me’ and ‘I want’ mentality, and start to see themselves as a person who can help to make a difference in other people’s lives. Naturally, this will further nurture the love and compassion from within.

Although the most common form of charity comes in the form of monetary and material gifts, it’s vital for us to teach children that the most important part of charity is the genuine thoughts and intent, and the deeds that follow suit. Real charity is where one acts without being attached to the fruits of one’s deeds. Teaching children about charity serves as a good way to impart treasured lessons such as gratitude, empathy, and citizenship. They learn to contribute and to give without expecting rewards, and to adopt a role in the society.

While we are encouraging children to do charity, remember to honour their opinions too. Charity has to come from the heart and never forced. If the child finds it hard to part with his toys or clothes, get creative and find other ways to contribute. Always involve children in the process and value their opinions. They will learn to be responsible and charitable at the same time!

Donate items

Set aside time to go through your closets for clothes you have not worn for some time, stationeries which are piling up, and toys which are stacking up which can be given to the Salvation Army, or dropped into the recycling box. When selecting clothes or toys to be donated, explain to them that the items that they choose are not confined to old clothing or toys that they no longer want or need. Picking up something which is dear to them but understanding that others may need it more than they do strengthen the true meaning of charity.

Neighbourly Help

Be pro-active in service-oriented community projects. Organise clean-up projects at the neighbourhood playground or park.  Involve them in baking cakes and cookies to be brought to the event and show them how to bake something delicious yet nutritious.

Save and Donate

Encourage children to save some of their pocket money to be donated to the organisation of their choice. They can also choose to buy something meaningful for the children in need.  Involve them in delivering the items.

Health Share

In a group get-together or during visit to orphanages, allow your child to ‘teach’ other children Yoga and watch your child beam as he shares the wonderful health benefits! You’ll be amaze that the little ones are great teachers too! Have them start the yoga session with a simple gesture of gratitude – create an energy ball from the great energy of the universe and dedicate it to everyone!

Lovely Words

Make cards/notes with motivational quotes or praises and dedicate it to others. It can be dedicated to neighbours, or during a visit to the homes, orphanages or shelters for victims of natural disaster. This is also a great way for children to learn about being positive and supportive of others.

Greening It

Start planting more trees or plants around the house and the neighbourhood. Apart from beautifying the surrounding, the trees and plants are great assets for the environment too – we can help to freshen up the air!

This article was featured in YogaMail Oct-Dec 2013 issue.