If you want to teach your child to be more giving and compassionate, there is one powerful way backed both by science and the scriptures.
In a classic research study, researchers set up a situation where children won tokens for playing a miniature bowling game. On the same table was a donation box labeled “Donations for poor children”. The children were told it is optional to contribute some of their winnings to the poor.
An actor played the game before the children. In one case, the actor declared how important it is to give to the poor. In another, he stated that he wasn’t going to give to the poor children but rather keep all his winnings for himself.
Another variable was also introduced. In half of the cases, the actor actually gave a portion of his winnings to the poor and in the other half he kept all of the tokens he won.
So, ultimately there were four scenarios:
- In scenario one, the actor declared giving was not important and did not give.
- In scenario two, the actor declared giving was not important but gave himself.
- In scenario three, the actor declared giving was important but did not give.
- In scenario four, the actor declared giving was important and gave himself.
The study found the children were more likely to follow the actor’s example than his words. When the actor gave to the poor, they followed suit. In other words, our actions have a much greater impact on our children than our words.
Jesus utilized the power of modeling in His ministry. He taught and ministered while the disciples watched and then asked them to follow His example.
Many parents also understand the importance of modeling. A study conducted by GlobalFingerprints, a Christian child sponsorship program serving vulnerable children around the world, found the number one reason parents with elementary school age children sponsor a child is to teach their own children the importance of helping the poor.
In response to this desire of parents, GlobalFingerprints designed Missional Kids. When a family sponsors a child in Liberia through GlobalFingerprints, they receive a free children’s book and five activity guides that help their child understand the life of the child they sponsor.
The Missional Kids guides are themed around four Biblical values – empathy, compassion, generosity, and gratitude. They include games and interesting facts as well as activities that help your child empathize with the difficulties your sponsored child faces. For example, there is a challenge for your child to carry a bucket of water around the backyard so they can identify with your sponsored child’s responsibility to fetch water from a well a long distance away.
This article is sponsored content.
- Preaching and Practicing Generosity: Children’s Actions and Reactions, James H. Bryan and Nancy Hodges Walbek
- 2019 Survey of GlobalFingerprints sponsors.