Teaching Kids to Give Generously

by Tricia Goyer

May 22, 2017

I never planned on that very ordinary spring day to provide a teaching moment, yet that’s exactly how it turned out. I had just loaded my children into the car after a doctor’s appointment and a man, wearing tattered clothes, approached in a wheelchair. He asked if we had any food to spare, and I shared what I had to give: a sack lunch prepared for a picnic and a bakery donut I’d bought for my grandma. Joy filled his eyes when he realized the donut was cream-filled. The man was physically disabled but his humanity was displayed in a warm, thankful smile.

As I helped the man, three of my young children sat in the back of the car watching. To be honest in that moment I forgot they were there. Ages 3 to 6-years-old as we drove away they excitedly shared other ways they wanted to help the man. One of my daughters wanted to give her savings from her coin bank to him. My son wanted to share his bunkbed. Together we decided that while sharing a bunkbed wouldn’t work my children could use their savings to purchase items to create care bags. With a trip to the store, they purchased granola bars, toothbrushes, bottles of water, candy and mints and even socks. We packaged them up and keep these bags in the car.

Even years later, my children are excited to find people to extend compassion to. That one interaction was a first step to helping my children grow generous hearts. If you desire to have you children look beyond themselves to the needs of others, here are a few places to start:

  1. Teach “little is much”: When our children are young they don’t have many resources. That’s why it’s important for them to understand that the size of the gift doesn’t matter. Instead, it’s a giving heart that makes all the difference. During our homeschool days we often read Bible Stories that reflect that “little is much.” Stories you can also use to teach this concept include The Widow’s Offering (Mark 12:41-44) and The Young Boy that Gave (John 6:1-14).

    Then, after sharing these stories, set up a jar where children can tithe (give) a portion of the money they earn or receive. This money can be used to give to their local church, to a missionary or to help provide for the needs of another person who God brings to your attention.
     
  2. Remind children that everyone can help someone: Sometimes children can be overwhelmed by all the needs around them. They may hear of a tragedy on the news or from friends at school. They may want to do something but they aren’t sure how to help.

    The first step in knowing how to help—and who to help—is prayer. Pray and ask God to bring one person into their life who many need extra help. Sometimes this will lead to family members pooling together resources to purchase a meal for someone in need. Other times it’s thinking of ways to help in other ways. For our children, this has included walking the dog of a single mom, babysitting a foster child (with mom’s help), or making a meal to take to a sick neighbor. The more children are involved in helping and giving the more they find ways to love and serve.
     
  3. Help children understand that we are all needy in different ways. When we give it’s important not to use the opportunity to make ourselves feel good. It’s important that we don’t see ourselves “greater” and those we help as “lesser.” Even as we give we need to remind children that each of us needs help in numerous ways. There are times we give, and there are other times when we accept help and assistance.

    Teach children that when Jesus brings another person’s needs to our attention it’s His invitation to give. As we offer what we have with loving hearts, we are Jesus’ hands and feet to another person. And, there is no doubt, that there will be other times when God will use another person to be His hands and feet to us.
     

Teach children that when Jesus brings another person’s needs to our attention it’s His invitation to give. As we offer what we have with loving hearts, we are Jesus’ hands and feet to another person. And, there is no doubt, that there will be other times when God will use another person to be His hands and feet to us.

Today your children may be the answers to someone else’s prayers. Even at young ages they can give generously and meet needs. Small steps in giving will create a generous heart within your children that will impact them—and others—for a lifetime.


About the Author:

Author Tricia GoyerTricia Goyer is a USA Today best-selling author of over 60 books, including her newest World War II novel A Secret Courage. She's been married to John for 27 years and they have ten children and four grandchildren. In addition to homeschooling her children, Tricia mentors teen moms in Little Rock, Arkansas. Tricia loves to connect! You can reach her at www.TriciaGoyer.com or www.Facebook.com/AuthorTriciaGoyer

Category: Common Cents