Teaching Kids About Compassion & Service

We’re raising future adults and they need to know the truth about what is going on just miles away from their own house. Check out these ideas on how to talk to your children about the homeless (and encourage them to help).

Talking about homelessness with your children can be hugely beneficial not only to their understanding of our world, but also to their sense of self. Kids who are able to be empathetic and kind to others will develop the courage to stand up for what they believe is right. Which is every mom's dream for her babies, right?

Keep it natural

No need to bring up this topic in a forced and awkward way -- either wait for your child to ask questions or wait for a time when your child sees a homeless person, and capitalize on the teaching moment. My kids are much more likely to pay attention to my pearls of wisdom if they are the ones who instigate the conversation.

Encourage empathy

If you do happen to see homeless people, talk about how sad it makes you that they don't have a place to live. Describe what homelessness is, and how it happens. Tell them that it could be caused by financial problems, an injury, job loss, etc. Teach them about how homelessness affects families too, and most of all talk to them about how being homeless doesn't make someone bad or unlovable.

Help them take action

Being community servants, helping out local organizations -- these are the kinds of people you want your kids to grow up to be, right? If you get them used to giving their time now, it will become a way of life for them. Have them go with you to the local soup kitchen or housing shelter in your area and help them learn the different options out there for helping those in need.

Read 7 tips for teaching your child responsibility >>

Move to gratitude

Ask your kids what their favorite things are about their home. Maybe it's a best memory, favorite smell or just something at home that makes them most happy. It helps kids to organize their thoughts in a way that completely sitfles out selfishness when we teach them how to focus on being thankful. As I watch my kids grow it becomes more and more obvious that squashing selfishness is one of my main projects!

5 things I want to teach my kids >>

The practice of simplifying

Teaching your kids how to live more simply will always be a challenge as the next shiny new thing is launched into our culture. Help this quandary by regularly having your kids help you gather up a bunch of items to donate (even something they still actually like -- sacrifice is another great lesson here!).

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