Teaching Kids to Be Generous: 3 Things Every Parent Can Do


By : Drew Formsma

One of my favorite things about speaking with my dad is hearing the questions people ask. There’s one question that comes up almost every time: How do parents teach their kids to be generous?

We got asked this question so often that I created an acronym to help me remember my answer.

Teaching my son how to be generous

What I’ve seen in my own life and in the lives of my friends is that generosity doesn’t usually just happen. Especially in a selfie-obsessed world. This acronym helps me remember what my parents did to teach our family generosity, and I hope it does the same for you!

 It’s simple: M.E.E. - Model, Encourage, Engage. 

M: Model

Modeling generosity to your kids is the first step, but that can be tricky if you aren’t living generously on your own already! If this describes you, then you are going to have to start giving before you can inspire generosity in your kids. Wait, let me rephrase that—you get to start giving!

As kids, we watch your every move. So, we need you to lead the way. Leading by example is more than just writing a check and patting yourself on the back. Showing your kids that you lead a generous lifestyle will help them develop an attitude of generosity. 

Get started by looking for giving opportunities around you each and every day. Keep watching for these opportunities, and generosity will quickly become a habit. And it will be contagious!

E: Encourage

Encouraging your kids to live a generous life means giving them the motivation and support they need. But make sure you don’t force them! It should come from a desire to help others, not just because you told them to.

Get started by helping your kids notice the people around them and the needs they might have. Point out ways they can make a difference. Once they recognize that they can impact someone else’s life, it’s a huge motivator. Then, when your kids see a chance to be generous, cheer them on! Don’t let your schedule or mood keep them from giving back.

E: Engage

Seeing generosity as a family practice is the key to making it a lifestyle and a habit. 

Get started by finding opportunities to serve or give back together as a family. Or share a recent giving story at the dinner table. But remember that we want you to be real with us, too. Admit your mistakes or giving opportunities that you missed so we can learn from you. 

M.E.E. is a great tool for parents, but anyone can use it! Look for ways to lift your head up and find giving opportunities in your everyday life, and you just may start a generosity ripple effect as people around see what you do.


About the Author:

Drew Formsma is widely known as a voice to his generation and a peer who can communicate with them unlike any adult. He began speaking with his dad in 2016 at the age of fourteen to audiences of tens of thousands of people around the world on the simple idea that generosity is the key to a better life. Drew lives in Southern California with his family and has set his sights on playing the top 100 golf courses in America by the age of forty.

For more tips on generosity for families, check out Drew’s book, “Everyday Generosity: Becoming a Generous Family in a Selfie World” available at www.ILikeGiving.com.

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