1. Walk the walk
If you volunteer, talk to your children about your experience. If possible, bring them along with you.
2. Make it fun
Give money to and volunteer at organizations that build on your children's interests.
3. Look for the teachable moment
When you're at the zoo, explain that you're there because people donate their time and money to keep it running, suggests Susan Crites Price, the Washington, DC-based author of The Giving Family: Raising Our Children to Help Others. If you give to organizations in your community, deliver the check in person and bring your child with you.
4. Include giving in family rituals and traditions
One family in Minneapolis designates one night of Hanukkah as "giving night." Each child chooses a charity that her parents contribute to in her name. Another family asks guests to bring gifts for homeless children to their birthday parties.
5. Introduce media that promote selflessness
Read Tomie dePaola's The Legend of the Bluebonnet, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, Aesop's "The Lion and the Mouse" fable, or 100 School Days by Anne Rockwell. Both Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Sesame Street can be counted on to consistently bring messages of good works into your home.
6. Set up a family foundation
Encourage your children to pool the "give" portions of their allowances into a family foundation, then set up special dinners to discuss where the money will go.
Copyright © 2004. Reprinted with permission from the December/January 2005 issue of Child magazine.