We hear a lot about making sure our children have math skills and athletic skills, but what about skills like compassion and empathy? As parents, we can be as intentional about imparting

these skills as we are about teaching our young children the alphabet or our older children how to put their laundry away. What’s the best way to teach generosity? Live it. Let your kids catch you being kind so they will have real-life memories to recollect later that remind them to be a positive force in the world today, no matter how others choose to behave.

    Often children are better at compassion and kindness than adults. When this is the case, we should follow their lead. Cultivating a spirit of generosity encourages us to see the humanity in any situation rather than defaulting to judgment or condemnation. So, if you want to raise thoughtful, peace-loving kids, show them the way. Get some generosity going and keep it flowing.


Grandmother and author, Jessica Morrell, likes to give her granddaughters a cool lesson in generosity when they stop in the car at highway ramps or intersections. “I create little bags to pass out — a few dollars, a protein bar, hand sanitizer, tissues, etc. I change the items depending on the season — add cough drops in winter, try to give out water bottles on hot days.” If you don’t feel comfortable giving money, give sturdy, healthy food items or even a nice cup of hot chocolate. Ask your kids what they would like to give and act on their ideas.


When a national or international tragedy strikes, get your kids involved in donating a little to The Red Cross (redcross.org) or other emergency organizations. Explain that when disasters happen, it helps to do a small good deed, even if it’s just making a modest contribution. If your child just had a Bar Mitzvah or a big birthday, encourage him to give a small amount to a cause he believes in and see how it makes him feel.


If you notice your child going above and beyond, let him know you feel proud. I was wondering if I was nagging my daughter too much about extending kindness to the new girl in dance class. Then I met her mother at the fall mixer and she commented that her daughter always speaks highly of my daughter. Rather than mostly focusing on correcting negative behavior, I try to make a point of telling my daughter when she makes me proud. This was one of those times.


Hold doors open for those behind and ahead of you. Teach kids to reply, “You’re welcome,” when someone thanks them for anything. Ask them to smile at seniors and say hello to folks who walk by with well-behaved pets. When a friend wears something pretty to school, teach your child how to offer a genuine compliment. Sincerity is important. Make sure your kids know what it means and don’t try to use compliments to snow people.


Feed the birds around your home all year long. Get kids involved in taking stray pets to a local no-kill shelter if they are in need of a new home. Bring frozen meals or warm muffins to an ailing senior or neighbor who has just delivered her third baby. Get the kids to mow someone’s lawn a couple of times, bring in the mail, and feed the pets for a neighbor on vacation. Small unselfish acts can boost kids’ self-esteem and make them feel like more integral members of

the community.


Let kids help you work out 15% for tips on restaurant meals and then teach them how to tack on a little extra. The waitress at the restaurant works hard — so does your local barista, postal delivery person, and babysitter. Talk to kids about creating a holiday thank you gift together to express your family’s appreciation and then add in a small cash bonus or gift card.

Christina Katz

Author, journalist, and writing coach Christina Katz loves jungle gym slides, water park slides, Slip N’ Slides, and Chutes And Ladders, but not the summer slide.