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It shouldn’t come as a surprise to many that giving and engaging in charitable efforts can have a positive effect on our outlook on life. Generosity can boost our endorphins and release oxytocin in our bodies, which creates a feeling of empathy and happiness. When applying this concept to children, one may think that their constant want for toys and material items would blind them from these benefits. However, teaching a child to give can do just the opposite.

Compassion and the want to give comes at birth and is a natural instinct in human beings. For instance, if you’ve ever seen a child no older than 1 or 2 years of age attempting to share whatever it is that they’re holding, you’ve witnessed that innate sense of wanting to give. Children are born with the ability to help despite not being taught the values of their actions, and studies have shown that giving can make them much more happier than receiving gifts.

A responsibility you have as a parent is to nourish this ability to give, and encourage your children to continue these efforts. There are countless benefits that come with giving and partaking in charitable efforts, but an increased sense of happiness is perhaps the best of all. However, it has been proven that giving also improves our health. It can reduce stress and even lower blood pressure in individuals that may be struggling with both health complications.

In terms of how you can encourage your children to give, there are a number of ways you can do so. First, talk to them to find out what their interests are and what they feel strongly about. Whether it’s animals or fellow children, this can give you a good idea of which organizations you and your children can work with.

Work close to home. Allowing your children to dedicate their charitable efforts to friends, family, and their respective community can have a profound impact on their overall happiness; something donations to an anonymous source on the other side of the world can seldom do. Perform these activities as a family to maximize happiness and the health benefits that come with donating your time and effort. It is a great way to bond with your children as well.

Encouraging your children to give and teaching them the values of charity can also promote social connections. Most charitable outings involve large groups of people gathering together to promote the betterment of a community, and doing so can allow relationships to develop among volunteers. Social interaction is very important in the growth of children, as it can improve both physical and mental health.