Giving Leads to Happiness

Why giving should be an integral part of your kid’s early education

Common Cents aims to change the way we educate, think about and relate to money. Beyond the money piece, we hope you teach your children the importance of giving, and help them understand the connection between giving and the warm and fuzzy feelings it produces. 

The Common Cents Community aims to create a culture chock full of conscientious kiddos who give as much as, or more than, they receive.

Research finds giving yields happy vibes in young children (even before the age of two). In fact, “toddlers exhibited greater happiness when giving treats to others, than receiving treats themselves. Further, children are happier after engaging in costly giving – forfeiting their own resources – than when giving the same treat at no cost.”

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ―Winston S. Churchill

Similar to the rush associated with shopping, giving produces a warm feeling of happiness. Studies show it’s in your head. I don’t mean hypothetically, I mean literally. Giving releases oxytocin in the brain resulting in the warm and fuzzy feeling we also feel when buying something new. However, giving can cost less. If we can get the same rush from giving as we do from shopping, imagine if we raised our kids to be happy givers as opposed to happy consumers. As parents, we simply need to rewrite the narrative in the beginning. Happiness, made simple!

Here are a few ideas you can do with your kids at home to begin cultivating giving as a habit. 

  1. Brainstorm! 

Begin by talking with your kids about how they would like to incorporate giving into their daily habits. If they are stumped by the prompt, offer suggestions to get them thinking. Remind them that giving doesn’t always have to be a thing or a treat. They can also give their time and effort. Maybe they want to bring in the trash cans for an elderly neighbor each week, draw pictures for the walls of a children’s hospital, or perhaps they want to bake cookies for a friend’s birthday. They may surprise you with their ingenuity! 

Talk about the emotional connection to giving. Ask them if they notice how nice it feels to give to others. Illuminate the connection between giving and happiness, so they begin to associate the two as action and result. 

  1. Save a portion of their “salary” for gifts for others

As soon as your kids begin earning a salary for their household responsibilities, remind them to set aside a portion to buy gifts for others. This practice capitalizes on two other Common Cents core principles, saving and delayed gratification, as well. If you’re following the Common Cents activities guide, you probably already have your Giving Jar labeled. If not, grab an old jar, cup or piggy bank, as a repository and encourage your child to physically place their money there for future gift giving. 

  1. Create a “Giving Coupon Booklet”

Haul out the art supplies! Encourage your child to think of five to ten activities they would enjoy doing for a friend, family member or their community. Instruct them to write their ideas on index cards and decorate with pictures and drawings. Once all cards are complete, staple or loop the cards together with decorative cord. Commit to reminding them to select a card each week to act on. Repeat when all the cards are used!

Ca$hing in on change,

The Common Cents Crew

How does your family give back? Share with us in the comments below or on social media!

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