3 Ways to Teach Kids About Giving

Creative, fun ideas to spark social responsibility

girl handing out a present

The holidays are a great time to teach your kids lessons about giving, says a child psychiatrist from Cleveland Clinic. Joseph Austerman, DO, says kids learn empathy when exposed to volunteer activities or ways to donate or help other children or other people.

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“They are much less likely to bully. They do better, and go further, academically,” Dr. Austerman says.

Here are some suggestions for parents:


Support a mindset of giving through adulthood to raise a compassionate, well-rounded person.


1. Ask children about donating unused toys

Even very young kids can appreciate and understand that others may not be as fortunate as they are, Dr. Austerman says. Have an honest conversation with your child about the needs of others. You can see if they would like to donate Christmas toys they aren’t using to needy children or you can take them shopping to choose a gift to donate — something as simple as mittens, gloves or a small toy.

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2. Think of your child’s interests

Dr. Austerman says when kids find something they’re passionate about, the lessons from giving stick even better and the experience lasts a lifetime. Is there a particular cause your child feels connected to? If so, you may find related volunteer opportunities or you can see if they want to donate some allowance money to support this cause.

3. Consider opportunities for older kids

Older children have broader opportunities to volunteer, and they may be more inclined to give their time at an animal shelter or a soup kitchen. Talk to them about options to give. Dr. Austerman adds that kids who volunteer tend to volunteer as adults, too. If you start them young and keep supporting this mindset through adulthood, you’ll help raise a compassionate, well-rounded person.