How do you teach your children not to be selfish?

Imparting values is important to most moms, and one of the trickiest ones to teach children is how to avoid selfishness. What are some good ways you've found to impart this valuable lesson?

38  Answers

1 0

Leading by example is the key. It is not a matter of how much you have or how much you have to give, but the act of giving. I pack a school and an aftercare snack in for my son. And he always shares that with one or two of the other boys. The toys he does not play with anymore, he packs in a box, and every six months, we would take it down to a location. ( this would be an area where less fortunate people live). and he would hand the toys out. He is an only child, but we have always taught him about sharing. He has no qualms about it, as it now comes naturally. Initially we would have a chocolate or an apple, and instead of each of us having one, we started off with sharing it. Now, if he has anything, he would offer.

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74 11

This is a wonderful way to build up a child's generosity spirit within. Be careful to teach self control as well, so there is a balance .

6 21

I have my children help each other out with their chores or their life tasks because it's the nice thing to do. We always send out "thank-you" notes when appropriate, send in treats just because, call people just because. In my opinion it's these "just because" moments that teach kids to think about others We also talk a lot about how their decisions and actions affect other people. It's talking about it and living it by example that work wonders in my opinion!

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Glad to see that you are able to do that. It is a great thing to encourage gratitude in light of what could be otherwise. May you be blessed with wonderful children as they grow to be adults.

2 6

This might sound mean, and honestly, I wouldn't have said this 15 years ago, but I would tell my children to be very careful in affiliating themself with a political party that looks down on the poor, that encourages certain groups of people to not pay taxes and doesn't care about people's health. Jesus taught us to take care of the sick and the poor. He also said it is easier for a camel to walk through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to get to heaven.

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0 8

Amen Susan...well said!

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1 18

I now have 6 children, 3 biological & 3 full-time step-children soon to be adopted by me, and although I haven't had all of them from birth I still had to instill sharing to all as with such a large family selfishness and possessiveness can cause large scale fights and chaos. Even my youngest at 20 months knows she has to share and everytime she's given a biscuit for example she toddles off to give it to one of her siblings and comes back for another and so on til everyone else has one then she takes her own and she'll even hold onto them until the recipient has said thankyou, she's a real stickler for manners. We are not in an easy situation and things are tough both in housing and finances due to the unforseen suddenness of the family expanding but my 9 yr old in particular has made me so proud ... my 7yr old step-daughter came to me with no possessions apart from what she was wearing, my 9yr old went through her wardrobe for her, she went thoguh her bedding and toys and gave some of her most loved things to the new family members without question just so they would feel part of us and loved and wanted. I recently broke my foot and my 16 yr old moved into my room so that she could care for her baby sister at night as I was bedbound for 6 weeks and my partner is partially deaf and doesn't hear her in the night. My 4&5yr old step-sons give up their seats on the bus for others in more need and although tact isn't a strong point with them they will loudly comment if they see someone taking a disabled/pushchair space if they are not disabled or have an empty pushchair etc and someone does need the spot. Even though this family has been labelled deprived and under priviliged by authorities they amaze me with their concern for those less fortunate than themselves and it makes me burst with pride how they put others first when they have very little themselves.

12
0 0

You have an amazing family & everything in the world to be proud of :)

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711 9

If you have more than one child this is easier to teach. Having to share snacks, having to share toys, having to share chores are 3 ways to help teach a child to avoid selfishness. Today parents seem to buy each child exactly what they want or one for each. As a child growing up I had to share a bike with my sisters, other toys and games as well. Die to our economic situation I wore the hand me downs of my older sisters that were not too worn. I am uncertain if any parents still do that today.

If you are a family that plays board games having to share the favorite game piece, etc. Even sharing food if there is only 'one' of something left is always a good way to teach sharing. There are as many ways to teach sharing as there are items on the planet. Be creative!

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On your hand me down reference, I still pass along my son's clothes (that are in good shape) to my nephew, it's a waste not to & my Brother doesn't have alot of $ so anything from clothes to toys etc. we pass down the line if we can. My son actually is happier when I get rid of things if he knows it's going to his cousin or someone else who can use it :)

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1 1

You have to check your own heart. Where are you being selfish? Remember your children are a reflection of you and they are watching you!

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74 11

This also applies to ones attitudes, and in the car, when the other driver is not behaving in front of you or behind you or wherever you find yourself in a 'potential danger' zone . They also pick up on words you use, and when you use them if you are hurt, surprized, scared, or angry . How are you managing all those in front of your children ? If you ask God for help in all these areas and are seeking to be consistent even in the tough times, be real, confess when you forget, and have overstepped your boundaries so they will learn that God will help you through these things by showing Forgiveness to them,because you if you are a Christian, can likewise show it to others. That way they will also learn how to forgive others too. Which is also very important to do.

2 5

This past summer, my son and I had planned to do a lemonade stand for fun. Well, my step-father's nephew's wife was in a bad car accident. Unfortunately, she suffered some serious injuries and is still recovering from some of them. To make it all worse, they were completely unemployed and uninsured at the time. I addressed my son and suggested that we should turn his lemonade stand into a fundraiser for my cousin's wife. We made about $300. Not a lot in comparison to what they owed at the end of the day, but was certainly a start. My son gladly handed over every, single cent of the money he made standing outside in the heat all day, pouring lemonade for people from 8am on a Saturday until 6pm--and he did so with a smile. I'm always proud of my boy, but I was especially proud of him that day and I felt that he truly learned a lesson in helping others. Afterwards, I took him swimming to cool off and we went home and bar-b-qued and he told me that he wanted to do a lemonade every summer and always donate the money. :)

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0 0

Christmas time is ideal for helping to teach this principle. We always had the youngest child choose a gift from under the tree, of course, it cannot be a gift for him or her. After the first gift is opened and everyone has seen it and appreciated it, the second gift is chosen by the person who opened the first gift, again, it cannot be a gift intended for him or her. This turns the whole idea to giving, not receiving. If someone has a special gift for someone else, they will probably choose that gift when their turn comes. If they know what is in the gift for someone else, they are excited to see their reaction when they open the gift! This process is continued until all of the gifts are finally opened. With nine children in our family, this would take a long time, but it was worth every minute as you saw each child excited for the others as they opened their gifts. The focus became more what as I giving for Christmas instead of what am I getting? Evelyn Owens, now a Great-Grandmother!

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Thank you Evelyn - I LOVE this concept! So simple and so effective!

9 5

The way you teach your children to be unselfish is by being their example. Children watch what we do more than what we say. I volunteered a lot as my children were growing up. I would also involve them in any volunteer activity that was appropriate.
On several Thanksgivings, we volunteered to serve the homeless with our church and then have our own dinner later that day. Christmas was always picking names of children off the Christmas Giving Tree and buying them the requested gifts and sometimes even more than what was requested.
When my children got their first jobs as teenagers, they would pick out children on the Christmas Giving Tree themselves and buy the children their gifts.
Now in their late twenties and thirties, my children are still doing for others. My daughter volunteers for several organizations and my boys will volunteer at a local food bank when their schedules allow it.
Its important that we model the behavior we want our children to learn.

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6 1

First of foremost you have to teach your kids by example. I have 3 boys and we started them very young. At birthdays, and Christmas the week before where they knew that they were going to be receiving toys, books we would together go through their toys and gather gently used toys and books to take to toys for tots. It was always such a wonderful thing to see them send much loved toys along because they knew that another child could love it too. Of course we would always pick out new toys throughout the year for Toys for Tots as well. Like Tracy we always always would send in treats to schools, take someone a surprise " just because". Thank you's were always sent as well as said. Please and Thank you were one of my children's first words. That you should be grateful for people's kindness and return it just the same. My boys were involved in scouts and participated in community service projects such as visiting nursing homes, food drives, clean ups, etc. If you set a good example and make it part of your daily routine then your children are going to learn by example and just life.

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0 2

Be an example of not being selfish yourself. Also, don't give into their every desire for material possessions. They need to learn that they don't get absolutely everything they ask for, simply by just asking. And serve others that are less fortunate, so that they are able to see how much they really do have.

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26 0

A selfish attitude is one I pray I never encounter in my child. So far I've been blessed my example has rubbed off on him. He's a very open and giving child to others around him. If he has something someone else does not have he is always offering to share with them, wether it's family or friends. All I have done is given him the example to follow. We do the give a toy/share a toy routine with a couple of other children around our neighborhood. If he's outgrown a toy it's regifted to a child who can play with it. In some cases he's even given away favorite toys to a child here and there and they have done the same with him. I'd say it's not only about leading by example but placing your child with like minded families so that the selfish bug does not suddenly take hold and become the flavor of his life. Like I tell my son: Sharing is the best way to show someone you care about them no matter who the person is that you're sharing with.

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74 11

This a great thing to do as well. So glad that you have been able to do this !

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18 0

i try to model unselfish behavior as best i can.I take the children to Church each week so they can learn how unselfish GOD is and we send them to Catholic School so the values we teach at home are modelled again in school.I think we,as parents, are the best as showing how to act rather than just telling them what they should do.Lead by example.

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2 0

They are by nature selfish. You have to show them by example and praising them when they do something unselfish.

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1 6

I AGREE WITH KATHLEEN, I'VE BEEN TAKING CARE OF KIDS FOR OVER 50 YEARS,KIDS LEARN BY EXAMPLE, IF YOU THINK JUST TELLING THEM OR ASKING THEM WILL WORK GUESS WHAT !!! IT WON'T WORK. I;VE WATCHED OVER THE YEARS WITH ALL MY KIDDIES, THEY ONLY HEAR WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR,AND IF THEY ACT LIKE THERE PAYING ATTENTION,THERE NOT.IT'S WHEN YOU SHOW THEM AND THEY WILL TRY IT THAT'S WHEN PRAISE COMES . THAT HELP REINFORSE THE LEARNING!

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6 0

My oldest boys has his 7th birthday this weekend. He has become friends with an autistic boy in his class and decided to not have a party but just a couple boys for a movie and pizza so this boy could come. I was so proud of him giving up a big party so his autistic friend could come.

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4 9

My son wanted a big party and we invited all of his school friends but very few showed and I know it's because that stuff can cause too many issues for kids. That's great your son thought of this child and I'm sure he had a great time. The kids just want to be part of a group but have a hard time fitting in.

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0 7

It drove my mom crazy, but, when they were small, we made our children apologize to everyone they had wronged. If they pulled the cat's tail, they had to apologize. If they tripped over the dog, they had to apologize. If they accidentally or on purpose bumped into anyone, even if no one was hurt, they had to apologize. That taught empathy, which, in turn, helped to prevent selfish behavior.

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0 4

I've always let my daughter help me or anyone in the family every time she expressed her desire to help since she was a toddler. I encouraged this desire as much as possible even if i was in a hurry and her help was not that helpful, if you know what i mean ;)

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0 0

I usually praise the actions of my kids whenever they do something good and worthy including unselfishness. In this way I can teach them and encourage them to be good always.

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10 0

I learned some generosity from my aunt. She was a nice person with other people. My mother no quite so, but I am glad I had my aunt as a role model. She would help her parents and other needy people.

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8 5

My daughter has never been selfish. When there is a food drive at her school, she raises the most money or takes the most canned goods. She shares her toys. She gives her friends money if they are out somewhere together and they don't have anything. If she grows out of something she asks where/when can we donate it. She just went through her closet and filled TWO garbage bags full of toys, pillows and other decorations that she donated to a pantry. When she gets her allowance, she pays her tithes. WHY? Because I am her example of an UNselfish person.I have always done these things so she automatically does them as well. You MUST lead by example!!! THAT is the key!!!

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8 0

Life lessons help them out.Also seeing lesser fortunate and giving to them helps in the Why? questions. There is alot of merit in knowing what if feels like to help others. Community outings and the holidays.Hand on experience .And for God sake give your children more responsibility. If they have none then the know nothing. And you are the culprit.

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86 0

Humans are selfish to some extent. How are we as parents rolemodeling being selfless or not as selfish? Also teaching sharing and helping others,

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1

I am having a big problem with my wife 14 year old daughter and her selfishness,as she and her mom lived alone for over five years I am now left with trying to correct and make aware .
Mom will allow daughter to have her way at the dinner table as we normally serve in a buffet style with no consideration for others she will be the first to share and I have to question or comment on her serving on several occasion .
Weekend is a time when sweets are given,if a bag a sweets is present she will sit alone and eat without offering,if asked to share this is done with resentment.
Duties have not transformed into a routine,its a struggle to get that voluntery effort and most of the time I have to ask for a return do over as task was not done properly.
Mom did not instill these routine chores and general principles early and now im in a situation where tension is building as mom support is not consistent.
I am now been told I do not love child as im always correcting.
During the Christmas holidays my wife parents visited for a few days at the same time my daughter from a previous relationship was visiting as well and on leaving they gave my wife gifts for the two children living at home and nothing fr the one visiting.
I find this act very selfish and when raised with wife she saw nothing wrong with it.
I am in a circle of people who cares about self far more than others ,give minimal away and im feeling exhausted trying to justify selfish actions.
I need help for change as this will not work with me .

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10 5

I think leading by example is the number one way to teach anything to your kid. My son is an only child and when he is playing with a child and the child wants a turn I just tell him to give that kid a turn or else the toy gets taken away. It seems to work because he is a great sharer. Not just saying that cuz he's my son.

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0 1

We tell our children that everything we have is what is given to us to look after for the time we have it. If we find others need it more than us then let them have it. Never say that something is mine, always better to say its ours to use and who ever needs it can use it. This makes giving things away easier for them and they are beginning to realise that when we give something away we not only make others happy but we feel happier too.

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2 35

My daughter is an only child but we lead by example. We adopt families at Christmas and Thanksgiving to express to her the importance of helping out those in need. We also go through her clothes and toys multiple times a year. We donate to Goodwill and lately she has taken it upon herself to voluntarily put things in the donation pile. I have explained to her that there are children and people out there that need our help and she is happy to help. Also, she has always understood that she has to share her toys whether she takes them to school or friends come over to play. It doesn't make a difference if you have one child or more than one, if you explain to them that sharing and caring go hand in hand and let your actions be the same as your words, you will be amazed. Kids are capable of so many things if we just let them do it. Praise them when they do go, explain to them when they do wrong and love them unconditionally and you will be amazed at the amazing young people they can become. :)

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0 1

dont be selfish your self.

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4 9

We give our clothes we've out grown to a friend who doesn't have as much money so they can get more use. At Christmas we do a Christmas Angel and my son is involved in showing for the gifts. When ever we come across a chariety collecting money at the store I give him change to give and explain why we do this. I really try and teach him that we need to help others as one day we might need help and hopefully somebody nice will help us if we need it.

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0 1

its more difficult with an only child as when they are at home they have sole use of their toys. and then when they get to playgrouyp they suddenly find that everything doesn't belong to them. i take my grandson twice a week to a group and if he suddenly sees something he wants and takes it of a child i tell him 'no, you must wait till they have finished playing with it.' but on the other hand i won't let other children take from him if he is happily playing with something. thankfully all the other parents and grandparents eem to be of like mind and very rarely do we get any temper tantrums and the art of sharing is being learned by them. he sees that he is not the only one that this happens to and so is quite happy to relinquish the toy to the other child.
we always share sweets with him, he will help himself from our plate but also we take from his to teach him it isn't all one sided. and it also encourages him to eat everything that is put in front of him.
no way is he a perfect child but he is a healthy, kind and generous 2 year old little boy

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12 0

Ann, it is NOT more difficult with an only child. Please, stop stereotyping. Kids with siblings can be selfish and don't share (even as adults). It had NOTHING to do with being an only child. What's next? If you're African American, you don't share as well as whites?

0 3

Imparting values to kids is an ongoing thing. Every action and thought coming from kids require mums to analyse and share good values and ideas. Its tiring indeed but needs to be done.

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Lead by example!

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4 19

Leave the US

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548 38

One habit I got my girls into was after birthday parties they've been to, when they've all had sweets (and other times when they've had sweets), they've traded with each other until they've all got sweets they like. They like 'trading'. Also when they've outgrown their clothes, they'll sort out what they don't want and the clothes that are being passed on are either passed down to the next sister (eldest to middle, middle to youngest daughter), then after my youngest the clothes (that are still in a reasonable condition are either given to friends or taken to the charity shops.

Also know that children follow the example of others around them. By setting a good example, then they are more likely to be kind, unselfish and good for those who are around them.

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548 38

How do you teach your children not to be selfish? Or to put it in a more positive way - how to you teach your children to share with those around them and the wider community?

21 12

Well, I had more than three kids who are grown adults now. However, when they were little, and they out grew a toy or clothes, I would talk to them about giving away these items to someone they knew . They were not always thrilled about this ideal, but in the end it taught them about sharing. When there is more than one child in the house hold and a parent perhaps give a pair of shoes or item of clothing to another sibiling because the first one out grew it, this is a good way to teach about sharing and not being selfish.

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0 0

Do unto others as you like to be treated.If you want people to share with you. You must learn how to share with each others. children learn by you doing the same things.

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1 0

I can tell you that it doesn't get easier as the kids get older, so you should model as best you can while they are young. We made sure our kids knew about our charitable donations and volunteer activities, and planned a family activity along those lines every Christmas season. Nevertheless, kids are by nature self-centered and it is a struggle to help them see beyond their own needs and desires. Please see my recent blog post on the subject at:
http://permissionslips.wordpress.com/2011/11/07/milking-it/

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0 0

I think only or single children find it much easier to share because they don't grow up having to! In the family of many siblings, children grow up in competition for things and that is when it is harder to teach kids to share. Yes it is important and yes we need to teach by example, but how many of us adults would open our house for example to someone who needed a roof over their heads? I just think we can do better - adults as well.

Cecilia

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12 0

Well said, Cecilla. Thank you for being reasonable and having commen sense. I find it odd how people always point fingers at only children, but overlook that lots of people with siblings do NOT share.

74 11

These examples that have been shared are all great. I can't think of much else that can be done. Though I know that when one rides in the car to be silent sometimes is great so as to help in the driver being able to concentrate on driving safely. Showing mercy,and kindness to others in their time of need is always great to do as well. Being there to help others when they have a need is also a great example if you are in a position to be able to do so.

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0 18

I teach my child to share, be compassionate and appreciate all he has. I will also make note for him to stick to topics and leave politics out of anything and everything that is not politics.

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