Five ways to teach your children to give back

The holidays can be a wonderful time for families and friends to gather together, sharing memories and gifts. This season can also provide the opportunity to instill the value of giving to others in your child. If you’re a parent, here are some ways you can encourage your kids to become budding philanthropists.

— Talk about why you give. Help your child understand the importance of giving to others in need. Talk early and often about why sharing your knowledge, abilities, possessions or wealth matters to you. Instilling a culture of giving in your family is a process, not a one-time event. Remember to embrace the joy of giving, doing your best not to make giving back feel like a homework assignment or chore.

— Find causes your child cares about. Your child is more likely to develop a habit of giving back when he or she is passionate about the cause. Start by brainstorming the possibilities of who your child can help, such as their classmates, animals, the homeless or the environment. Then, encourage him or her to identify what talents to offer in service. Does he love to bake or meet new people? Does she enjoy music or caring for animals?

Next, help your child choose one or two charities whose missions reflect his or her interests. Involve older children in the search and vetting process, teaching them how to have confidence that a charity is doing its best to help the cause.

— Give and volunteer together. When your children see you volunteering your time, talent and treasure, they see your values at work. Find ways to involve your children in your own giving. With the holiday season in full swing, consider volunteering or purchasing gifts for another family together. Your children will learn first-hand how rewarding giving to others can feel, and you’ll have the bonus of creating family memories to cherish, too.

— Encourage disciplined saving. Kids need to learn how to manage their own money in order to become responsible givers as they grow older. When your children get an allowance, or otherwise receive money, they can practice making responsible choices. Introduce the idea of “save, share and spend” — setting aside a portion of their money for the future, a portion to help others and a portion for fun spending.

— Create a family foundation. Consider establishing a foundation to fund causes you care about. Formalizing your giving in this way creates ongoing opportunities for you and your children to make a lasting impact on the community. Talk to your financial advisor for advice regarding establishing a foundation and leaving a legacy of service to the next generation.

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