How to Be a Benevolent Role Model: Raising Generous Kids Through Example

Disclosure: The following is a guest post.

Kind, compassionate, caring, charitable ― there are qualities every parent wants to see in his or her kid. However, most kids won’t naturally develop these altruistic traits without help from parents and guardians to develop charity.

Many experts ― let alone parents ― are divided when it comes to strategies for imbuing goodness and generosity in children. Financial gurus stress the importance of teaching financial literacy, which will inevitably allow kids to generate the resources to give back; meanwhile, psychologists value empathy-building conversations regarding other peoples’ wants, needs, and feelings. Yet, one method whose efficacy nearly every expert agrees upon is being a good role model.

Children naturally look to their parents as examples for how people should act, so behaving generously will encourage your kids to do so, as well. Here are some tips to help you display more benevolence in your daily life.

Demonstrate Emotional and Physical Self-Control

A famous study from Stanford University found that children who demonstrate willpower are destined to do better later in life. In the experiment, researchers gave kids between the ages of 3 and 5 the choice between a single treat now or a better treat later, if the kids were able to wait. The kids who demonstrated restraint and held out for the better treat were found in later studies to achieve higher academic degrees and live healthier lifestyles into adulthood.

When your kid screams, you probably want to scream, too. However, as a mature adult, you have the responsibility to demonstrate self-control to your children. Willpower takes many forms, from moderating your intake of junk foods to calming your emotions when they threaten to boil over. By refusing to succumb to your urges, you express to your children the necessity of inner strength and self-will, which are essential to becoming benevolent.

Respect Others and Command Respect in Return

Children learn respect directly from their parents, which means you must strive to demonstrate respect in every social interaction you have around your children. You should avoid casting negative judgement on others, especially those with fewer privileges than you and your family, and you should strive to use appropriate language in all social situations.

Just as important, you should expect everyone around you to treat you the same, which demonstrates the concept of self-respect. By being positive, polite, trusting, and caring to everyone you meet, you will teach your children how to be respectful ― and more importantly, that everyone deserves respect.

Be Willing to Part With Your Possessions for Others

It is only natural that children believe their needs and wants are most important; after all, their thoughts and emotions are the only ones they hear and feel. However, it is vital that as your kids get older, they recognize that those around them also have thoughts and emotions, and that sometimes, others’ needs and wants are more important.

Undoubtedly, you have boxes full of possessions stored in your home; you might even have large items taking up space, like an old vehicle that doesn’t run. When you have no use for an item, you should donate it to a worthy cause to show your children that owning things doesn’t increase happiness. Crucially, you must explain your choices to your children and telling them how your donation will benefit someone else.

Volunteer Your Time and Effort to Worthy Causes

More than your behavior and your donations, generosity is the action you take to make the world a better place for those around you. Volunteering in your community allows you to interact directly with those in need, which gives you (and your kids) a better sense of what more you could do to help others.

There are hundreds of ways to volunteer and demonstrate benevolence, from baking treats to sell for charity to visiting food banks and homeless shelters, so you have plenty of opportunities to learn all the ways people need help. From a young age, your children can accompany you on your volunteering adventures, so as they age, they will view volunteering as a normal activity.