7 Meaningful Ways to Teach Kids How to Pay it Forward
Whenever a story of a stranger doing good goes viral, it can feel like a refreshing wave of hope for humanity. But these powerful stories of "paying it forward" don't need to always be large monetary gestures or even acts committed by adults. It's important for parents to show their children that they have the power to have a positive impact on another person and should work to do so as often as possible — without the expectation of gaining something in return. In order to increase the number of kind adults in the world, parents can start teaching their kiddos the value of paying it forward now with these seven tips.
Show That the Small Is Just as Important as the Big
Being kind to others and paying it forward doesn't have to be limited to grand gestures. It's important for kids to understand that the small acts of kindness, like holding the door open for someone and donating a toy to a child in need, are just as impactful as paying it forward as are major monetary acts.
Point It Out When You See It in Others
An easy way to drive this point home without making your little one feel bad for neglecting to pay it forward themselves is by making a point to praise others when they pay it forward. When you talk freely with your child about your observation and spread positive feedback, you can open up your child's mind to helping out in situations when it might not have even occurred to them before.
Be Their Devil’s Advocate
Considering that kids are told not to talk to strangers and to keep track of their possessions, it’s understandable that some might be hesitant to jump in for another without the promise of gaining anything in return. Be that moral sounding board to constructively point out ways in which your child can do for others so that eventually they can not only spot opportunities to pay it forward but also partake in them on their own.
Make It a Family Affair
By participating in charitable events and random acts of kindness as a family, you not only show your little one the joy that can come from paying it forward, but also that this value applies to everyone and not just the smallest members of the family.
Be Clear About the Real Purpose
It's wonderful if you're teaching your child to do good deeds for others including strangers, but if they are doing it for the wrong purpose, it loses the impact. When your child is weeding out his or her clothes and toys to donate, ensure that they are doing it with the mindset of appreciation for what they have or recognition of how it could help those less fortunate instead of with the idea of making room for new possessions. In each kind act they do, it's essential for them to do it with the purpose of giving and not with the expectation of getting something out of it in return.
Do It Even When You Don’t Think They Are Listening
Parents help develop a child's moral compass, and it's up to moms and dads to model these desired behaviors at all times and not just when they think their kiddo is paying attention. Children pick up on way more than what many parents realize, and by making it a priority to pay it forward whenever the opportunity arises (and not just when it's a grand show to put on for your child), you teach your kid that these gestures should be the standard and not just the special exception.
Redefine a Superhero
While some children might view heroes and winners as one in the same, it's important for parents to show their children a major difference. The person they want to become is the one who does things for others quietly, without the need of recognition or fame in return, even if that means not being the first or the best.