How to teach kids generosity?

Child gift to mother.

Give me that! That’s mine!”

Are those words familiar? 

Do they voice the sentiments of your children when asked to share things with others?

This might well be the case, if the young child shows signs of being selfish and possessive with his belongings.

Parental concern is natural when children develop and display these undesirable tendencies. But what can parents do to arrest such traits?

How is it possible to teach children to become liberal, open handed and generous?

Generosity must be taught

A newborn baby’s wants and needs are of prime importance to him.

He does not even realize how many sleepless nights his parents experience in an effort to keep him well fed, dry and supplied with the attention he craves.

Of course, in time the child becomes more aware of others.

But he has to be taught generosity, as well as other admirable qualities.

The age when such instruction can be absorbed varies with each child.

By the time children are of school age, some are companionable and ready for friendships and all that these entail.

Other children of the same age, however, may not have adjusted in this way.

They hold on to the traits of babyhood.

The task of teaching these children is more difficult, especially if the youngster is an only child.

Of necessity, many children in large families learn that their individual needs and wants are not of utmost importance.

At an early age they learn to share food, clothing and other material things, if not their thoughts, with their brothers, sisters and other members of the family.

And usually these children grow up to become well-adjusted, balanced and mature human beings.

What about your children?

Are they generous or selfish, open handed or possessive, gracious or tightfisted?

Well, when did you last look at them objectively?

“How,” you ask, “can this be done while they are still young and pliable?”

A simple way is to observe them at play with other children.

Often a child with selfish tendencies will be very possessive with his toys, refusing to allow other children even to touch them.

Yet, he will want to play with theirs, even becoming angry if not given his way.

In contrast, the generous child usually will be quite willing to share his things with others.

Some are even eager to do so.

They notice the needs of less fortunate children and are willing to share without any prompting from the parents.

Interestingly, it is often noted that this type of child generally comes from a home where the parents set a good example of giving.

He also receives much love in the home.

Thus, the security he feels is not dependent on material things that he can hold on to.

He is secure in the love of his parents and knows that he is safe inside a loving family arrangement.

Is that true of your children?

What parents can do

One of the important factors in helping children to become generous and outgoing is the continuous encouragement given by their parents.

Consider, please, a mother with four children who has been successful in this respect.

She sits down and talks with her children as soon as they can comprehend.

The mother lovingly helps each one to appreciate that the family arrangement of brothers and sisters is a precious gift and that they have to take care of one another as they grow up.

The older ones then help the younger ones as they come along.

She points out the unloving and violent attitude of children around them and shows her own young ones how they can be different.

When her children deviate from a proper course, she patiently reminds them.

This young mother also lets them work out their problems with one another whenever that is possible.

She has said:

"I don't believe that sibling jealousy is natural. I don't see any reason for brothers and sisters to be forever fighting and bickering with one another. I have tried to root out such actions in our family by giving each child all the love and attention he or she requires. It is not easy, but it has brought some results.”

This approach certainly works, for it is noted that the fighting that exists between some brothers and sisters generally is absent in this particular household.

Another couple with a large family, including a retarded child, also has been successful in rearing children in a loving and generous atmosphere.

Contrary to what may occur in similar households, the retarded child is encouraged and expected to be generous with his older and younger brothers and sisters.

Yet, he is not the center of attention.

Nor is he neglected or made to feel inferior by the others.

This boy’s loving nature, and particularly his concern for children he has not even met, warms the hearts of individuals meeting him

His mother said that she and her husband expect their children to be loving with one another.

Instead of indicating surprise when children display such love, and giving them rewards or even bribes, these parents show surprise and quiet dismay when their youngsters do not treat each other in a loving manner.

This attitude ‘rubs off’ on the children without any long sermons or tongue-lashings.

Do you deal with your children in this way?

Or do you assume that any selfishness you notice in them is just a phase they are going through and that they will outgrow?

Too many parents have felt that way, only to find that by the time they see the need of doing something about their child’s selfishness,it has become too deep rooted to change.

When parents first notice such a bad tendency, they can work toward uprooting it promptly.

Mothers, particularly, need to make such efforts, since they usually are with the child more than the father.

But they must be in harmony with their husbands if their children are to feel secure.

Nothing can make a child more anxious, and more possessive, than feeling insecure about his parents’ love for each other.

If the youngster senses their disunity, he is likely to rely more and more upon material objects—things that he feels safe with and to which he can cling.

Also, the child becomes quite withdrawn in personality and dealings with others.

Sometimes parents feel discouraged. because, no matter what they do, there are no good results.

Or, so it seems.

Nonetheless, things done by parents make impressions on the child.

For instance, reminiscing about his childhood, one man recalled with amusement an incident that occurred when he was about eight years old.

He said:

"I remember saving my pennies and buying several of my favorite candy bars. I had intentions of going off alone and sitting under a tree and just eating all that candy myself. Well, as soon as I had purchased the candy, who did I run into but my mother. Of course, she instructed me to offer some to my brothers and sisters. I remember how horrified I was at such a thought because my brothers and sisters outnumbered the candy bars I had. After a few anxious moments when they acted as if they would devour all my candy, they gave most of it back to me and off I went. But after that I remember thinking more about them when I bought something.”

He also remembered a dispute he had with a younger brother over some pie and just who was going to get the larger piece.

His father settled the matter by establishing a rule.

From then on, one would do the cutting and the other would have the first choice.

The result?

They each developed skill in cutting equal pieces.

In time, however, they became less exact with one another and a more generous spirit prevailed.

Surely, concerned parents want their offspring to turn out well.

So, make the needed effort as a parent and very likely your children will become generous.