Good Advice – From Nanny Clara
Yes, children can see you model generosity regularly when giving to your house of worship, a person who is experiencing a hard time or through various drives (backpack/school supplies, socks, personal hygiene, canned food, etc.) Hopefully they are helping you with these efforts. You could ask them to donate a part of their allowance, their free time, and the physical labor to get it to the correct location on time.
But what about younger children without “resources?”
From little up, I work with children using the phrase, “Let’s make someone else’s day better/easier today.” Upon parking the car at a store, we make sure the carts are corralled and not in parking spaces. Inside the store we replace items that have slipped off shelves and pick up litter, depositing it in the nearest trash can. It helps others and makes us feel good. I remind the kids less as they get older because often I see them doing it without being asked to do so. That always make me smile.
But what if no one notices or says, “Thank you?”
We need to remind our children that we will not always receive immediate praise or gratitude upon being generous. That can hurt our feelings and that certainly isn’t fun.
With younger children, you can explain it being like a “special” secret deed that makes their heart feel good. Sometimes we eventually get rewarded and other times no one ever notices. Think about the story of the Elves and the Shoemaker. For nights on end, they snuck into the shoemaker’s and made new shoes for him to sell to earn a living. It wasn’t until later that they were rewarded with new shoes and clothes. Or just like Claire the mouse, who kindly looks after their neighbors whenever they're in need.
Are we only generous with good deeds to get a “thank you?”
As children grow and develop, they can understand a generous deed or giving in another way. Discuss with a child the difference between ‘from the outside of our bodies’ and ‘from the inside of our bodies.’ Possible answers might include: skin, hair, fingernails, eyes, ears as ‘outside our bodies.’ While it always feels wondering to get thanks and acknowledged from the outside-in, growing up includes being generous from the inside-out. We perform generous acts to let our joy, love and helpfulness out of our heart.