Simple Service: How to Teach Young Children the Concept of Giving Back

Thank you to Our latest guest blogger: Brittany McCabe from Mama Bear Britt! Read more about her after the post.

With the new year in full swing, it’s a great time to clean out some of your child’s unused toys and items and teach them about giving back. This concept, giving back, can be somewhat abstract and difficult for young children to understand and fully grasp. Should we even bother trying to teach it to them at a young age? If so, how do we approach it? In short, yes. It is never too early to introduce important concepts, especially those that have to do with humanitarian work. Teaching our children how to be kind, how to give back, how to help, and incite joy will help them tremendously in strengthening their social and emotional skills. The best way to introduce a big concept is to make it relatable to what they know. Something tangible. Something they can manipulate and take part in.

How do we relate concepts to their world?

Recall things that have occurred recently that they would have a good memory of. Has someone given them or handed down something to them recently? Did someone share something with them? Or maybe they received a special gift or a letter from someone?

Help them remember this event and use it as your tool to teach them. Your conversation may go something like this: “Do you remember when Sally gave you that book from her room? She was all done with it and thought you might like to read it and she gave it to you.” “How did that make you feel?” “Were you happy to get it?” “Would you like to try and help someone else feel happy, just like Sally helped you feel?” Help guide the conversation and relate their past experience to how they can also do this for someone else. Sally gave and now they will give.

Explain why it’s important to give and how doing small acts of kindness can bring joy to someone’s day.

Involve them in the process of giving from the beginning. Together, get a bag and go through the items in their room. Children as young as 3 are able to successfully decide what they would like to keep and what they would like to give away to spark joy in someone else. Remind them of how they felt when they received that book from Sally and ask them how they think another child would feel to receive some of the items they are putting in the bag.

Once the items are packed up, take them with you to donate the items. Have them carry the bag in. Donations can either be made to organizations or to families in need. Having the opportunity to meet the family receiving your items makes the process very concrete for your child, because they can visibly see the benefit to others. However, children can benefit from making in-person donations to organizations as well. While donating the bag to an organization is a bit more removed from the final step, you can interact with the employee and let them explain to your child how it will help others.


Giving back and helping those in need is an important learning lesson for our children and a remarkable act of kindness. When we teach and implement humanitarian work to a young child, it becomes a part of their lives and something they grow up doing and knowing is right. When we introduce these concepts young and relate them to the world they know and understand, it becomes a holistic approach and one they fully grasp.  


About the Author:

Brittany McCabe is a Child Development Specialist & creator of Mama Bear Britt, which is an educational website created to help parents learn, gather, and share. You can find articles covering the various topics of child development, parenting tips, and engaging activities for your baby, toddler, and preschooler. Join her tribe at the following: