6 ways we can pass along our core values
It’s never too early to start teaching children the importance of helping others.
It’s so easy to be momentarily inspired by an article, resolve to change but without focus or a specific way of making a change. Most of us have to admit that “there’s just no time” to even think about doing things differently….
So here are 6 practical ideas we've tried as a family to pass along our core values and teach the importance of kindness to our children. I hope you find this helpful and let me know if there are any you think I'm missing!
Practical Action 1: Starting things off with pocket money.
Even early in primary school this worked well as the children can divide their money into three jars: save, spend and give. There's also a fantastic online way of doing this through a lovely app called Makerble who helps you to keep track of your small change to make some big change.
Also what we found really powerful was accompanying the children to charitable events to make their donation in person and encouraging a conversation on how their donations will be used to make a difference. The BBC has a great website with lots of links family friendly volunteering opportunities.
Practical Action 2: Empathising with others.
When you're a child it can be hard to imagine that more than half the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day and it sometimes feel like we live in a bit of a bubble - going to school, work and home again day after day. So every time we went to a library, museum or traveled abroad we brought up a conversation, thinking about some of the more difficult realities of life for others.
One challenge I did as a student was to live off $1 a day and keep a diary of what it was like. Recently billionaire Elon Musk revealed that when he was 17, he lived off a $1 a day for a month to see if he had what it takes to be an entrepreneur. Why not try doing something similar? You could involve your children in the budgeting and cost of the weekly shop or cook a family meal together on just $2.50? Jack Munroe has some brilliant ideas on the Guardian with a weekly recipe for less than £1 a head.
Practical Action 3: Connecting to other generations in the family.
Celebrating family history is a great way to pass values from one generation to the next. I love sharing my own childhood stories relating to how I discovered charitable causes I'm passionate and volunteering opportunities I took part in growing up. Also encourage your children to talk to their grandparents and other families members about their own charitable experiences. You might be surprised to hear what your parents and siblings have to say. I know I was!
Practical Action 4: Children are great imitators, so why not give them something great to imitate.
Whether we like it or not our children are always watching! So when encouraging your children to get involved with worthwhile activities from volunteering their time or saving up to support a charity, plan to do it together. One of my favourite saying from an inspirational family member is, "we live together, we eat together so why not give back together?"
One idea could be having you and your partner donate £100 to your child’s charity of choice but they have to research and decide between three options that you've identified together. Sort of like the Waitrose green dots but at home!
Or what about putting a box in your kitchen and every time your child wastes food encourage them to put a favourite treat into the box to take to the local food bank. The Trussell Trust has an easy search engine for you to find yours.
Practical Action 5: Do the research.
No one, at any age, enjoys doing something they’re forced to do! So running on from my last point, encourage your children to do their own research into family activities they might want to do. One idea we liked was having each family member to go off and research a few ideas or causes they'd wanted to support and chat them over next family dinner. This process helped everyone to have some skin in the game. Although in my family we certainly don't all agree with each other it's really fantastic to discuss and find ways to compromise on one charitable family activity to do this half term.
Practical Action 6: Making it formal.
I think it's important to have some boundaries and ideally you should have an idea of how much time & resources you can give to supporting a charity. Be realistic. Even if it's just one sponsored family walk a year, the fact that you've talked as a family about what walk you want to do, who you're raising the money for and the impact that has had for the charity is just as important as spending every other weekend volunteering. For us this process should not only encourage every family member to assess their own personal core values, but also identify the family’s shared values too. We've found the Family Dinner Giving Decision Tree a really helpful place to start.