One of the main purposes of children’s education is to teach them how to be generous, in other words that they learn how to act in favor of another in an unselfish manner. However, this virtue is not so developed in children, so they tend to act for other reasons, for example, to please the person that they admire or to receive something in return.
Of course, it is always easier to do a favor for someone that we like (a sibling or a friend, for example), than for someone that we do not necessarily like. This fact is most valid during adolescence, a phase of life where judging people comes easiest: they are good or bad, nice or mean, etc, while generous acts are for nice and good people. This, however, is not real generosity, because it is not acted out in favor of a person who really needs it, but in favor of someone that is liked.
One must go little by little into educating children with this virtue, like going down an inclined surface. It is good to be nice with those we like, but then, and with a little bit of effort, with everyone else. If parents approve and support their children’s smallest efforts, they will thus motivate them to continue carrying out these generous acts.
The second reason of being generous is to receive something in return. This happens when a child lends or gives a present to a classmate that needs it, for example; however, keeping in mind that the classmate will have to give something in return to the child in the future. It is like saying: you owe me a favor; or, I give you so you can give back to me. If this conduct is intentionally acted out, it can lead to egoism.
Moreover, children can be very egocentric – they expect that the entire world must revolve around them. Parents, however, can intervene and open new perspectives by teaching their children that there are other people that are in need, and children may be able to give something to them, even if it is small. This lesson can surge easiest within a family that lives within a participatory and generous environment. Both in the family and in school, it is a common practice to assign errands and homework in favor of others and with a spirit of service.
In order to continue on this path, parents and teachers can teach children to value what they already have, whether it is money, concrete objects or time. And in a second occasion, teach them that other people have needs and it is valuable to give these people a little bit of what they already have, even if it takes an effort to do so (Translated by Gianna Sanchez Moretti).