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For many parents, helping their children understand the value of generosity is high on their list of priorities. Teaching kids why and how to help people is important, and Christmas can be a great time of year to help them learn. Here are some ideas that parents can use when teaching their children the importance of generosity.

Encourage Empathy
Many children know that sharing is caring, but they might not understand why they need to care. A big part of growing up for kids is learning empathy and starting to put themselves in other people’s shoes. Parents can help cultivate this attitude in their children by asking questions such as “How do you think your brother felt when he opened his new toy?” The more that your children practice empathy, the more they will internalize it and understand why they should be generous.

Nurture Generosity
Whenever you see your child doing something generous like sharing their new Christmas toys with their siblings or giving a compliment, make sure to praise them for it. Positive reinforcement is one of the best methods for encouraging generosity. Always be on the lookout for something to praise them for. It is much easier to encourage something that is already there than it is to get them to adopt whole new behaviors.

Have Them Practice
They say that practice makes perfect, and the same is true for generosity. The more children act generously the more they come to internalize that behavior. A great idea is to have them help you go through old and unwanted items and donate them. Include them in every step of the process and consider asking them if they would like to donate any toys they are not using anymore. If they say no, that is okay, instead ask them to help you pick what of your old items you would like to donate and then have them come along and help when you finally donate the items.

Be An Example
Children look up to their parents and often want to emulate them. The more your children see you exhibiting generosity, the more likely they are to exhibit it themselves. Children often resist listening to people who have a “do as I say, not as I do” attitude. Let your kids see you being generous, but do not make a big deal about it. Be open about who you are donating to, bring them along to volunteer with local organizations, ask people if they need help, offer a sympathetic ear when people need to talk, etc. The more they see you acting generously, the more they will, too.

As you focus on helping your children learn generosity, we ask for your generosity for those who desperately need our help. Many of those struggling with homelessness in our community are facing freezing temperatures and need supplies and warmer clothes. You can help us make a difference in the lives of the homeless and help them face the cold by bringing new and gently used donations to Hearts Thrift Shop, or by using our bin finder to locate a Hearts donation bin near you.