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Teach Your Children About Poverty: What it is (and what it isn't)

Teach Your Children About Poverty: What it is (and what it isn't)

Parents have a huge responsibility when it comes to instilling values in their children. However, many parents will be really unsure about how to do that.

For this reason, we've compiled a list of ways you can give your children a better understanding about poverty and its surrounding issues.

What is poverty?

Poverty can mean a lot of things but generally speaking, it is when you don't have enough money to pay for the things that every human needs. (This includes shelter, food and access to clean water). Teach Your Children About Poverty: What it is (and what it isn't)

It's important for your children to understand that everyone needs these things - even if they're not poor themselves at the moment. The same applies to various other types of 'privilege' which exist in society today.

Help them understand and process what poverty means to them

This can be a really interesting conversation....

If your child is of school-age, it might be worth asking them if their friends are rich or poor (and why). This will give you some insight into how they really feel about poverty and what they think it means in terms of lifestyle choices.

A mistake parents often make is to try to shield their children from as many of the harsh realities of the world as they can. They tend to forget just how much children subconsciously pick up on situations that either they or their friends are experiencing.

However, it's also important that you don't go into too much detail or upset them. Talk about what your family could do if you were in poverty - not what people who live in poverty can't do.

Share real life stories with your children

There are lots of fantastic books written for children that share the accounts of young people living in poor countries.

Sharing these with your own children can give them a great insight into what other children have to deal with on a daily basis.

The best way forward is education

If your child ever notices something unfair happening around them, make sure they understand how lucky they really are and use real-life examples (don't be afraid to mention celebrities and billionaires). At the end of the day, education is one of the best ways to help anyone in poverty find a way out.

It's important for children to learn about what they can do to make the world better. That could mean donating money, resources, time or simply using their voices to raise awareness about the issues around them.

Set an example for them

Children often emulate the behavior of their parents. The more children see their parents advocating against poverty, then the more likely they will do the same (in time!)

It's important that your children understand that there is nothing shameful about being poor - and this means no apology either.

Children are incredibly impressionable. They will look to you for cues on how they should act and think. If you're someone who is ashamed of being poor, then your children will be ashamed too - even if you don't want them to be! Teach them what it means to stand up for themselves and other people in poverty.

You can do more than just talk about it

If your children witness unfairness happen - either around them or on the TV/internet, talk about ways they can help out.

Mental illness, slavery and child labour are all major problems that can be solved through advocacy (and financial contributions). Showing your child/children that there's always something that each one us can do to make a difference is really important.

Show them how we can help change lives

It's great if we can find ways we can help other people who live in poverty - even if we're only little kids . It's important for them to realise that the actions they take today might have a big impact on someone else's life tomorrow.

Remember that poverty is relative too...

If you are middle-class, then your 'poverty' might look very different to someone who is living in extreme hardship. The main thing to remember here is that even if your child's house has four bedrooms and central heating, they can still be aware of the less fortunate around them. Even small children understand the concept of fairness -and this can really help them empathise with others later on in life too.

Help them to understand that not everyone is lucky enough to live as well as you do

It's important for children (and adults!) to learn about those less fortunate than themselves and how they can help. Most kids will naturally be curious, so it might be helpful to set up an area in their bedroom where they can keep track of those charities they want to donate money or time too.

Just because you're rich doesn't mean that you're bad

Children often believe what their parents tell them about how the world works. They don't have enough experience yet to truly understand what it means for someone to be poor or wealthy.

Make it clear that just because you're rich doesn't mean that you're automatically bad or that someone who is poor is automatically good.

Children tend to look at things in very black/white terms - understanding and appreciating the nuances is something that will likely come with age - parents need to make sure that they explain these concepts to their children properly.

Don't forget to teach them about what poverty isn't

One of the most important lessons you can teach your children about poverty is what it ISN'T.

You need to make sure they understand that being poor is not lazy, 'scrounging' nor is it a state of mind. Most people don't want to stay poor and would prefer to have a better quality of life than the one being poor offers them.

Public opinion can be somewhat skewed when it comes to poverty and many people automatically make the assumption that being poor is somehow deserved of the people who live below the poverty line.

Make sure you explain to your child why these views are not only wrong but also incredibly damaging and how we can help change them for the better.

If we don't teach our children about poverty and why it's important to help those in need, who will?

Wrapping Up:

Raising children who care about others and the world around them is one of the most important things we can do as parents.

Teaching empathy and compassion for those who are less fortunate starts early, with simple gestures that show our children that we care.

Making a donation to a charity in your child's name, volunteering together, or even just talking about what you've seen on the news can help foster a sense of social responsibility in your kids.

Poverty exists all over the world, in many different forms, and it's important for us to be proactive in teaching our children how they can make a difference.

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