Inculcate giving habits from a young age

It is heartening to hear that volunteerism is growing in Singapore (Spirit of volunteerism alive and well; Nov 26).

More importantly, parents have a role to play in inculcating important values such as empathy and generosity in their children.

At times, people approach situations asking "what's in it for me" instead of "what can I do for others?"

What are the societal implications of these attitudes becoming more prevalent among younger generations? For one thing, the next generation could grow less empathetic and more self-centred, affecting the culture and strength of families, schools and the larger community. If each individual allows the mindset of "to each his own" to drive their actions, we may see communities becoming more fragmented.

The good news is that we can make use of the school holidays and upcoming festive season to intentionally teach our children how they can contribute to society.

Families can get creative in implementing this.

For example, a great cook can whip up a dish in the kitchen to share with an elderly neighbour with limited mobility.

Or, if a child loves doing arts and crafts, he could volunteer to teach children with chronic health conditions to do simple art pieces.

These small yet significant acts can help children understand the joy of giving.

It is crucial to start engaging children from a young age in such giving habits.

No matter how small these may be, they lay the groundwork for lifelong attitudes of generosity and giving back to society.

By intentionally talking about and practising kindness as families, we can raise empathetic youth and leaders who will live with the needs of the community in mind.

Singapore will then stand a better chance of reaching its goal of having seven in 10 people actively volunteering in five years' time.

We can also all look forward to a kinder and more inclusive society.

Cheryl Ng (Ms)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline 'Inculcate giving habits from a young age'. Print Edition | Subscribe