Ron Liberman in his book, The Opposite of Spoiled, talks of dividing children’s allowance into three jars – spending, saving and giving. Giving is a part of money’s utility in our lives and there is no better way than to begin this conversation with your children from the start.
Giving or sharing or donating, however you may like to call it, teaches us that our lives are about more than just ourselves. The world is not equal and if we have the ability to give then that really is a favour to ourselves as it has the potential to bring us a lot of happiness.
This sheer joy in giving is what can resonate with children too at an early age.
The foremost action in starting your children out in the giving journey is to communicate with them honestly about what it entails. Start small and maybe start at home. Giving at home can take the form of sharing. For example, encourage your children to always share food with everyone in the house. Others may not take what the child is offering, but the action of offering even a small piece of candy or chocolate is important. It puts this realisation that we are not living in solitary, there are others around and their wants are important too.
Giving is not just about writing a cheque and donating money. It is about caring enough for those less fortunate and understanding that our excesses can become their basic necessity.
Then slowly shift this sharing with the family to giving to strangers. In India, there is no dearth of opportunity to help those less fortunate than us. Take your children outside and they will see it for themselves. You can share a treat with homeless families or much-needed school stationary with children living on streets. Make it a habit to donate old clothes and shoes, but also make it a habit to take your children along while doing it.
Giving is not just about writing a cheque and donating money. It is about caring enough for those less fortunate and understanding that our excesses can become their basic necessity. Seeing you make the effort to transfer some of this excess to where people can better utilise it, will help your child understand and embrace the inequality in a positive manner.
Have a giving goal
From the start you can carve a separate financial goal for giving so that it doesn’t start to feel like an additional aspect, rather children think of it as part of their money responsibility right alongside saving.
It is not necessary to donate this money, use it to give some useful supplies to those who need it rather than just handing out the money. Let your child accumulate some amount as part of their giving goal in a separate piggy bank and use that to buy appropriate supplies for those in need.
You have an effective outcome you can make it a once in a calendar quarter and make your child mark the next date of giving by writing down their idea against the date. Seeing the goal written up against the calendar will serve as a reminder and reinforce the thought of giving.
The earlier in life one is able to inculcate the concept of giving the more happiness one can derive from this simple act of sharing. Encourage, communicate and become your child’s role model when it comes to sharing and giving from your plate to another’s.