Instilling a Sense of Giving - DuPage Children's Museum

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Instilling a Sense of Giving

December 8, 2016

This time of year we hear a lot of chatter about giving back either by donating to charities, buying gifts for the less fortunate, volunteering at soup kitchens. While these are all important acts that I encourage you all to engage in and talk to your children about, I feel that if we are truly going to grow a generation of children who will genuinely make a difference, that we need to make a year round effort to instill a deeper level of philanthropy. It is important to highlight that giving is not something you “teach” children; it’s a value you adopt as a family.

Instilling a sense of giving can start early, but remember, charity begins at home — as does empathy, generosity, kindness, responsibility, honesty and a host of other relationship-building traits that make life worth living. We learn them from the most significant people in our lives. It is no secret that children three and under are egocentric by nature but as they grow and develop the capacities to think of others, they need our support and guidance along the way . A sense of giving is learned by watching grown-ups. When children observe adults share, listen or be kind to others, they learn compassion. I encourage you to intentionally create a culture of kindness and generosity in your home. Children learn by watching you and by being part of a community-minded family:


  • Try to incorporate examples of giving that you observed or experienced into your conversations at bedtime or the dinner table
  • If your child was the one that did the giving, ask them how it felt.
    Look for opportunities throughout the day to be kind to others, for example, helping a neighbor carry their groceries.
  • Notice and name when you see others do kind things (“It was really nice of your father to help Mr. Smith with his car.” “That was kind of you to show Johnny how his toy works”).
  • If you donate clothes to charity, have your children help you bag them up and accompany you to go drop them off. Talk about what you are doing and why.


By the time children start school, they are ready to be more involved in their own philanthropic adventures, usually centering on their own interests. Children’s charitable involvement contributes towards raising self-esteem, developing social skills, fostering an introduction to the greater world and encouraging kids to appreciate all that they have.

Make giving a family affair by encouraging your children’s interests and working together. By allowing them input and decision-making, you will start them on the path of lifetime giving!

Looking for more ideas? An excllent resource on this topic for parents and teachers is