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How to Teach Your Toddlers to Be Generous

Posted by Eileen O'Shanassy on 3rd Apr 2020

Teaching toddlers to be generous can be a much easier task than training older children or even adults. All you need to do is offer rewards, lead by example, and use verbal training skills.

Reward Them for It

Encouraging your child to be generous to others can be easier if you teach them that they will receive a reward for it. For example, a child might share a cookie with another child if they know they will be praised for sharing. This type of extrinsic motivation will encourage the child to do things for the reward. While there is nothing wrong with this attitude, it should also be accompanied by intrinsic (internal) motivation.

Lead by Example

Watching parents or other adults be generous has a positive intrinsic effect on children, who are learning behaviors from what they see and hear. For example, an adult could encourage a child to be generous by helping them put together gifts or packages for others, particularly blankets. Donating blankets can help the 1,330 people that die of exposure every year. Another alternative is to show ways to humanize people in need and give them help when possible. For example, a person experiencing homelessness could be invited to share a meal with the family.

Change Their Vocabulary

This suggestion encourages adults to examine the way they treat items. As mentioned, children are learning behaviors from their parents and other adults. If they see that a respected adult says "That's mine!" they will mimic that attitude. On the other hand, if they see that the adult says "That's mine...to share!" then the child will have a positive example to follow. Adults should also do their best to humanize and show direct compassion to someone in need, which often means putting a person first and their situation second.

Teaching toddlers to be generous is an important skill that should be taught as early as possible. Parents and other adults can monitor their language to include a sharing attitude and showing compassion for their fellow man. Adults can also lead by example. That provides intrinsic motivation for children because an adult they admire is doing good that they can copy. Finally, toddlers might need motivation outside themselves. When adults notice that a child has been generous, they should make a show of it to encourage the child to continue their generosity. After all, being generous is a lifelong process of practice and improvement.

Looking for more parenting advice? Check out this other article: How to Give Your Toddler the Healthy Start They Need