Want to teach your kids to be more charitable? Start by encouraging them to be more humble about their accomplishments.
According to new research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, successful people who are more self-effacing or humble about their place in the world tend to be more generous than people who have an inflated sense of their own importance.
Humble people are also more likely to give up time and other resources to help people in need, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Positive Psychology found. People with big egos, on the other hand, tend to be stingier with their time and money.
Teaching your kids to reflect on how they feel when they assist someone else also may help nudge them in the right direction. According to a 2012 study published in the journal Psychological Science, reflecting on good deeds may encourage people to repeat their acts of kindness.
Here are three ways you can encourage your children to give.
1. Talk to you kids about giving. Don’t just show them — tell them. According to a 2013 study by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, talking to your kids about charitable giving may help cement the habit over time. The study found that talking about why you give and how you do it is significantly more effective than simply modeling a good deed. “The way parents teach their kids about giving matters,” said the institute’s Debra J. Mesch in a statement. “Talking to children about charity is effective across all types of U.S. households, pointing the way to raising future philanthropists.”
2. Ask for help when deciding where to put your money. If your kids are older, consider enlisting their help when it’s time to find a charity. Jointly visit websites such as Charity Navigator, GiveWell, YouthGiving.org or MyChange and talk about the issues that matter most to you. Or, if your child is younger, think about causes that might connect to their personal interests, such as animals or the environment, and use that as a guide when deciding how to give.
3. Make charitable giving a family habit. Many parents encourage charitable giving by asking kids to donate a portion of their allowances to charity. To make it easier, consider buying a piggy bank that’s divided into different categories. For example, the Money Savvy Pig has slots for saving, investing, donating and spending. Or, if you don’t want to buy a new toy, try the envelope method and ask your child to regularly set aside cash in an envelope labeled “to give.”
Your bottom-line: By encouraging your children to be more generous, you’re not only doing the world a favor; you’ll also help your kid. A number of studies have shown that giving away money tends to make people feel happier and more satisfied, and it may even improve health.
For a more hands-on approach to instilling generosity, you also may want to check out volunteer activities in your neighborhood. Many cities and churches sponsor kid-friendly volunteer programs that are fun and easy to join.