Some parents believe that it’s important to wait for their children to grow a bit older (think six or seven) before teaching them these life lessons. In a way, these folks are right. The older the child is, the better his/her comprehension skills. However, according to Carol Weisman, the author of Raising Charitable Children, your kids are capable of understanding caring and giving at the tender age of three or four. At three, your child is quickly learning to communicate his/her needs. The child is also capable of comforting those around him/her. (Think of the time your own youngster offered you a hug when you were feeling down.) Remember, kids are like sponges.
This post includes six lessons for parents who want to instill the love of helping in their children, and one that really sticks out as important is to never make a child give something that they don't want to give:
Never force your child to give away anything that he/she doesn’t want to give – whether it’s toys, food, clothes, money, or even time. Kids, as adorable as they are, can be very stubborn sometimes and forcing them to do things they don’t understand will only breed further misunderstanding, and even resentment. Your goal here is to help your child become a better person by teaching him/her to become charitable—not to get into shouting fests with your youngster.
While requiring kids to give may seems like a good idea on its surface, this mom makes a good point about how charitableness should derive from a place of want, not a place of must. That way the child will want to give of themselves as adults, and not eschew it altogether once they reach maturity.
We all know how helping others aids those in need. And we know how helping others makes us feel good. And we are starting to learn that helping others makes us healthier. But did you know that helping others can help you through the grieving process?
Watch this short news report about a woman who lost her dear spouse and how volunteering helped ease the pain:
You might think that if money is tight for you, as it is for many people in this low employment, expensive gasoline economy that it is impossible for you to help others in need. If you struggle to pay rent each month, how can you help someone else with hers?
This line of thinking is understandable, but what you may not realize is that your desire to help someone else doesn't have to be squashed due to a stretched budget. It takes zero dollars to make a difference in the life of someone who is going without. Zero. In fact, all you need is a willingness to reach out.
The note below is from a very recent Modest Needs grant recipient thanking the donors who made her request possible. Pay particular attention to the sentence in bold.
"I am thanking the good Lord and all of you kind and wonderful people for helping me at my time of need. I can't hardly believe it. A friend from another website suggested Modest Needs when I was at my lowest, so I applied with a prayer in my heart. Since I applied my electric bill situation has only gotten worse and this will bring it current! I can breathe again! I am so grateful for this help, thank you, thank you, thank you. There will come a day when I will pay this forward thanks to you kind people."
This someone she is referring to changed this individual's life for the better. And how did she do it? Not with a donation, but with her mouth.
You don't need a red cent to tell someone else about Modest Needs. You don't need a single penny to share the word about this organization that helps otherwise self-sufficient people--people who have no where else to turn--get back on track and prevent them from falling into poverty.
If you know someone who could use a hand up with car repairs, missed bills, accessibility equipment or any other financial emergency, tell them about Modest Needs. Or link to us on Facebook. Or write about our mission on Twitter. There are countless ways to share the word about what we do.
But! Don't think you have to wait until you know of someone in dire straights to spread the message. The fact of the matter is that often people have overwhelming financial emergencies, but they are too ashamed or afraid to tell anyone. Sad, but true. So, don't hesitate to tell others about Modest Needs--even if you don't know of a specific money problem. You never know who might need our help.
I challenge you to tell one other person about Modest Needs today. You can call, text, tweet, update your Facebook, write on your blog (you've been meaning to update it!) or discuss it over coffee. Telling just one other person today about Modest Needs might mean preventing them or someone they know from the vicious cycle of poverty.
You don't need extra cash to make an extra huge difference. Communication is just as vital. Spread the word today.
You know why giving is good: seeing others happy, warm fuzzies, a sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself. But, check it out--giving is also great for your health. So, go ahead and have those fries*!
New research suggests there may be a biochemical explanation for the positive emotions associated with doing good. In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, participants’ brains were monitored by MRI scans while they made decisions about donating part of their research payment to charitable organizations. When participants chose to donate money, the brain’s mesolimbic system was activated, the same part of the brain that’s activated in response to monetary rewards, sex, and other positive stimuli. Choosing to donate also activated the brain’s subgenual area, the part of the brain that produces feel-good chemicals, like oxytocin, that promote social bonding.
“When you’re experiencing compassion, benevolence, and kindness, they push aside the negative emotions,” says Post. “One of the best ways to overcome stress is to do something to help someone else.”
Even better, feeling good and doing good can combine to create a positive feedback loop, where doing good helps us to feel good and feeling good also makes us more likely to do good.
“Numerous studies have found that happy people are more helpful," says Dr. David Myers, a social psychologist at Hope College and author of The Pursuit of Happiness. “Those who've just found money in a phone booth are more likely to help a passerby with dropped papers. Those who feel successful are more likely to volunteer as a tutor."
How wonderful to know that something as simple as helping someone else will allow you to let go of negative thoughts and emotions. How great to see that actions that benefit many are beneficial to all involved. It's a great way to go into a weekend--two days to reach out and show your generosity. Saturday night "helper's high"? Don't mind if we do!
WHEN Elizabeth Jane Handel was a young girl, her mother would read books to her each night. A middle-school project — sorting old books to donate to other schools — made Ms. Handel realize just how lucky she was. She wanted to share the gift of reading, and a family friend mentioned that women at the prison where she worked had extremely limited resources.
Ms. Handel started A Book From Mom, a program to donate children’s books to the women’s prison in Framingham, Mass. “I thought if I put books in the prison, mothers could select a book when their child came to visit and it would help ease the tension of the visits,” says Ms. Handel, now 21 and a junior at Barnard College.
Or like the young man who believed that income should not prevent students from doing poorly on college entrance tests:
A FEW weeks after he took the SAT, Jason Shah realized something more vexing to him than algebraic formulas or word usage problems: that many students can’t afford or access programs to prepare them for the test, and college.
The epiphany came in a West Philadelphia middle-school classroom that his sister ran as part of her Teach for America commitment. Many students had trouble with reading and spelling, and Mr. Shah, then 16, wondered how they would be able to study for the SAT in a few years.
He returned home to New Smyrna Beach, Fla., raised $10,000 from family and friends, found Web developers and began INeedaPencil.com, a Web site that offers free SAT prep, including lessons that use conversational language and sports analogies and full practice exams.
“Certain students either don’t do well on the SAT because they don’t have the resources or don’t take the SAT because they think only rich kids take the test,” Mr. Shah says. “It just bothers me deeply that it’s such a simple problem that doesn’t have to exist.”
See a need. Fill a need. The rest is all logistics.
Once the gifts are unwrapped and the Chritmas meal is eaten and the dishes are all done, you can sit back on the couch and watch a little football. Or you can give a little of your time to those around you who need it.
I have seen it written, on the walls of Facebook and in the stream of Twitter, that people dislike awareness campaigns. Whether it be changing your avatar to a certain color in support of an idea, adding a "Twibbon" to your Twitter profile pic or wearing all pink to shed light on breast cancer, some people think these sorts of awareness campaigns are symbolic acts that have no impact.
And, I suppose I can kind of see why.
It doesn't take a lot of effort to make your online profile pic purple. Or to repost an anti-bullying sentiment on your Facebook page. But does that mean what little effort it took has no impact?
For those with causes rooted in systemic problems, changing your avatar (and its sibling actions) is just one type of engagement. But it isn’t a trivial action. Rather, it is a social signal that an issue matters to you. It opens up the door for others to ask about it. It also allows for those who were fearful to state the same opinion to join you publicly.
That's a really good observation.
Just because it isn't "hard" to take small steps online to signal awareness for a cause doesn't mean it doesn't count. Every little bit helps, just as Henderson has outlined above. Even if your tiny online action provokes a single discussion about the cause it seeks to highlight, then the effort is more than worth it.
Of course, adding a "Twibbon" to your avatar doesn't compare to diving in and volunteering or fundraising, it can make a difference. It can be the spark the starts a flaming fire of interest in your peers or family members. It could be the start of something monumental.
But, what do you think? Agree? Do you often take action online, however small, to shine light on an issue that concerns you?