As parents, many of us want our children to grow up with compassion for those less fortunate. We might also want them to care about protecting the environment and not leave a heavy footprint on the Earth. So how do we instill these values in them?

One of the best ways is simply by living well ourselves.

Our children watch our every move. Think of a toddler demanding a chair to stand on while Dad is shaving, insisting on putting shaving cream on his own face.  Or a young girl teetering around on Mom’s high heels in front of the mirror, or pacing the living room floor pretending to talk on a cell phone like Dad on a business call.

Likewise, kids will learn by example how to walk through the world with integrity and kindness.

If you buy organic food and make healthy meals, or if you make sure the lights are turned off when you leave a room to conserve power, or you drive a fuel-efficient car, or you buy your Christmas gifts from local stores instead of big-box chains, you are already showing your child what matters to you as a family without having to say a word.

And if  you make a point of donating to charities or volunteering with local organizations, your child will see this as the norm. There are many things you can do as a family to nurture a sense of awareness and empathy for others in your child. Here are a few easy ways you can involve even very young children in the process of giving a helping hand.

  1. Donate to the food bank

Set a budget that works for your income, even if it’s only $10, and go to the grocery store with your kids. Let them help you pick out some items and explain to them where it’s going and how it will help people who don’t have money for food. You can look up your local food bank and give them a call for a list of most desired items.

  1. Bring clothing and blankets to a shelter

You can bring some gently used coats and blankets to a local shelter when the weather gets cold. There is also often a need for personal care items like toothbrushes and toothpaste, hairbrushes, deodorant etc, which your child can help pick out.

  1. Fundraise for a charity of your choice

Choose a cause that’s close to your family’s heart. Maybe you lost a loved one to cancer, or maybe your child adores animals and wants to donate to the animal rescue society. You can help older children organize a lemonade stand or bake sale in your front yard, or go door to door to collect bottles. You could also have a family garage sale and donate all your proceeds to the charity. Bring your child when you go deliver the money so they can get that sense of satisfaction from having worked hard to make a difference. 

With very little effort and cost, you can help foster a sense of loving care in your child that will serve them and their communities for the rest of their lives. 

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