Should I encourage my kid to give to charity during the holidays?

Should I encourage my kid to give to charity during the holidays?

Questions about kids and money keeping you up at night? This series answers them so you can get some sleep.

Giving to others is an important trait of any money genius. The biggest reason? It’s the right thing to do. But there are other benefits, too. Research finds that those who give to others are happier themselves. Giving also generates gratitude for what we have, and reminds us that there are others who must make do with less.

That said, sometimes donating to charity can be a tough sell to a kid, whose first instinct may be to hoard what he has rather than part with it. If that’s the case, don’t beat yourself up as a bad parent, or blame your kid for being, well, a kid.

Here are five strategies that can help your child develop giving as a habit of the heart:

  1. Start young. Studies of toddlers have found that even very little children can experience the joy of giving. You can explain that it’s important to help other people, and let your child be the one to drop your donation in the red Salvation Army bucket, put the check to your charity of choice in the mailbox, or click the “Donate” button to make an online contribution.
  2. Discuss your giving priorities for the holidays as a family. Modeling giving as an important value in your household sends a strong message. But know that just mailing a check to your charity of choice or making a weekly donation at your mosque, synagogue, or church isn’t enough—you need to talk to your kid about what you’re doing and why.
  3. Help your kid to think about causes and organizations that are important to him. Depending on her age and level of engagement, she may need some help figuring that out. See Chapter 8 in my book Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not) for much more on how to do this, as well as a list of good charities for kids.
  4. Volunteer together during the holidays. Donating time is also a form of giving, and there are many opportunities during the season to make a difference for organizations that could really use in-person help. It’s a wonderful time for families to pitch in together.
  5. Ask your kid to fake it till he makes it. In other words, exert the influence you have to help your kid get over any hesitation he has about giving. If you give your child an allowance, be clear that part of that money is to be set aside for giving to others. If you are volunteering as a family, let him know that he’s expected to join in. Happily, economists who’ve studied this say that kids become more altruistic as they get older.

Got more questions about how you should handle kids and money? Send ’em in! Watch this space! Better yet, order Beth’s Make Your Kid a Money Genius (Even If You’re Not).

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