By Mike Morland
Teaching a child the importance of giving back to those less fortunate may be one of the most valuable lessons they can learn.
Any parent can attest to their child going through the "mine" stage. It's human nature from its earliest stages to want comfort and security in their possessions and surroundings. However, as a parent, it's important to teach your child the significance of giving back.
It's not always easy to explain to a child how "need" and "want" are two very difference necessities to life. Even though your child may beg and plead that they need that new toy, it's important they know that even though they want it, they don't really need it. One of the best ways to encourage giving behavior is by putting it into perspective.
Perhaps your child wants a new, expensive toy. Explain to them that as much as they want the toy, there are children in the world that can't afford any toys. Offering to buy them a different (and less expensive toy) shows them the importance of not being selfish. Also, propose to your child that together you can buy an inexpensive toy with the difference and donate it to someone less fortune.
This lesson curves selfish behavior into a selfless act and building a charitable heart. By including your child in the decision to take less in order to give more, it allows them to understand more clearly why they don't need everything they want.
As your child grows older, lessons such as these can be a springboard into smart financial decisions. Donating old toys, clothing and other household items show the value of items to different people. By teaching your child to be efficient with their belongings, they may be more inspired to make the most of the money they have.
There are many ways a child can get involved and give back as they grow older. Organizations such as St. Jude Children's Research, and Habitat for Humanity to name a couple offer opportunities for your child to get involved, give back and put the world into a better perspective. Talk to your child and find out what's important to them, then set up a charity goal so the idea of giving is always in front of them.
Giving back teaches your child the skills of being able to do more with less. This lesson will roll over into many aspects of their lives, including a true understanding of financial needs and wants. The better they understand this difference, the more likely they will make smart financial decisions as they get older.
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