We are living in an era where everyone needs all the assistance they can possibly get. Some people need financial help, emotional support, psychological help, and some just need your generosity. Generosity Research (a platform that conducts studies about generosity), asserts that generosity is a learned character trait. Obviously, this means that it must be taught until it becomes a part of us. On this parenting issue, we discuss why generosity or giving back is important and why you should instil this in your children. 

Educational psychologist Yasmin Omar says that generosity is a good legacy to leave behind for your children. ”Generosity, compassion, and selflessness are good attributes to instil in children. Children are born helpers and instilling these traits from a young age in children will hopefully lead to the future generations being more compassionate and community-focused,” shares Omar. 

Philanthropist and founder of Hope SA foundation Namritha Sivsanker believes we must instil a sense of responsibility in children and young people with a culture of giving back to our community. “We can encourage our youth and teens to be more compassionate and have a spirit of charity,” she adds.

Sylva Osten who works for The Rokpa Soup kitchen asserts that people are mostly focused on themselves and their efforts to get ahead in life, and tend to be self-centred, unsympathetic, and intolerant of others. Osten shares that teaching children how to help others enables them to empathise with other people and to be less self-cherishing, enabling them to connect with humans of all walks of life.

When parents teach their children generosity, they have to ensure that their children do not think they are better than the people on the receiving end. ‘’Parents should focus on how they are giving positively would impact those on the receiving end. This would help to foster a healthy sense of compassion and responsibility for others,’’ explains Omar. Children’s reflection of their charitable work is important as it would give them a chance to think about the positive outcomes for both themselves and the other parties involved.

Teaching your children generosity is not just for the benefit of the receiver – there are psychological benefits that your children will benefit from. ”Helping others has been linked to the release of oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine. These hormones induce feelings of warmth, happiness, and a sense of connection to others. This also boosts confidence and self-worth,” says Omar. 

Generosity or giving back doesn’t necessarily have to be materialistic or in the form of money. It can be shown by using your time to help out where it is needed. ”They could help to prepare soup and sandwiches during the school holidays, and with their parents, they can go out and help give the prepared meals to needy people. In this way, they can connect with people they would never meet under normal circumstances,” elaborates Osten. 

Sivsanker asserts that children and young people can show empathy and be more compassionate to each other in their schools, families, and communities. ”We have youth and teens involved in volunteer work. They assist with the packing of food parcels at Hope SA. Some do accompany us to visit orphanages,” shares Sivsanker. 

Another aspect to take seriously is that parents themselves need to speak and advise their children about why they see it as an important and worthy act. ”Parents should focus on how their giving, positively impacts those on the receiving end. This would help to foster a healthier sense of compassion and responsibility for others. Reflection of their charitable work is important as it would give them a chance to think about the positive outcomes for both themselves and the other parties involved,” says Omar. 

On the question of whether giving should be seasonal, Omar shares that children learn from those around them and if adults model the spirit of giving and are regular with it; the children too will follow suit. 

How Your Children Can Show Generosity

  • Reading to groups of younger children
  • Getting involved in community clean-ups
  • Get children to regularly clean out their toy boxes and give away some of them.
  • Give away shoes and clothing they have outgrown
  • Offering tutoring or homework assistance

If you would like to show your generosity or get your children involved in The Rokpa Soup kitchen, you can contact them: Johannesburg@kagyu.org.za and Hope SA can be contacted on enquiries@hopesa.org or their website www.hopesa.org

Educational Psychologist Yasmin Omar can be contacted at yomar.edpsych@gmail.com