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Oregon Family Magazine

Inspiring Generosity in Children

12/01/2020 ● By Pilar Bradshaw, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Generosity is a trait most parents would like to see instilled in their children. Teaching kids to serve and give to others builds character and empathy. It also releases chemicals in the brain that stimulate reward pathways and creates a feeling of joy. Scientific studies show that people who are generous as adults experience better physical and mental health, improved job enjoyment, have happier and stronger relationships, and live longer.

Lead by Example

Teaching generosity to kids is best accomplished by parents who model the behavior. Babies and toddlers are hard-wired to mimic others, so show them how to share toys and be attentive to others. Smile and praise your child when you see him or her sharing or nurturing others; praise will reinforce those pathways in their brain. 

For school-age children, teach generosity by participating as a family in community projects and giving to others. It’s important to note that exhibiting generosity is not just the giving of money or material items. Giving your time and showing kindness to others is just as important. Some ideas for families include:

  • Gather and deliver clothing donations to a local charity.
  • Collect used books for the library or toys for a community toy drive.
  • Donate fabric to our local nonprofit Bags of Love.
  • Deliver non-perishable food to FOOD For Lane County. 
  • Make cards for children in the hospital or in local shelters.

Teens and young adults can do even more, such as mowing lawns for elderly neighbors, volunteering, or occasionally donating their time to babysit instead of expecting payment. Talk with your kids about ways they would like to be a positive impact on their school, neighborhood and community.

Acknowledge Your Child’s Acts of Kindness

Be sure to recognize and acknowledge your child’s generosity. By doing so, you will strengthen that behavior and it will become how they naturally treat others.   

Raising generous kids to be compassionate adults is one of our most important tasks as parents. Opportunities to show compassion are endless and impactful. For more ideas on encouraging generosity in your children, talk with your providers at Eugene Pediatric Associates. Instilling these traits now will produce great rewards in the future.

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