One of the most important values we can teach our children is being considerate of others. Teaching your child that giving to others is a way to make them feel good will help develop their sense of empathy and compassion as well as their morals.
Let’s explore some ways that you can support the spirit of giving in your child with autism.
Strategies for Teaching the Spirit of Giving to Kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Be a Role Model
The most important thing parents can do to help their kids have the development of a sense of giving and helping others is to be a positive role model. Children learn a wide variety of skills and character traits from their parents simply by watching and observing them.
However, it is important to note that some children may not pick up on the message that you're trying to send, particularly if they have autism. Despite this challenge, it is still possible to influence them with your behaviors and what they see you doing on a regular basis. If you generally act helpful toward others and you are engaging in helpful behaviors in front of your child, they are more likely to develop these character traits as well.
Incorporate Helping in Your Family Life
Another important tip to instill the spirit of giving and helpfulness in your children is to incorporate the concept of being helpful in your family life. Think about how you and your children interact with one another and how your children interact with each other.
Try focusing on when your kids engage in helpful behaviors and try to encourage them. Discuss why it's important to help each other and find specific ways your children can help each other and their family.
One example of this is when your children engage in completing household chores. This is helping the family unit. When a younger sibling needs help with their homework, an older sibling might be able to help them with that. If one child is working on a somewhat challenging task, such as cleaning up toys in the living room, another child might pitch in. This is an example of helpful behavior. You could encourage your children to share with each other which is related to the concept of giving as well.
Reinforce Helpful Behavior
When trying to help your children develop a spirit of giving and helpfulness, focus on how you can reinforce these types of behaviors. To do this, be observant and aware of how your kids interact with and think about others.
Reinforce their helpful behaviors in a more formal and structured way such as using a token board or a sticker chart and rewarding them when you notice that they're being helpful. They can earn a prize or reward for meeting a certain number of tokens or stickers.
You could also reinforce these behaviors through praise and acknowledgment verbally. Acknowledge that you notice and appreciate their helpful behaviors.
Continue to demonstrate and reinforce sharing as a part of your family. For example, if you see your child sharing their toys with their younger sibling, you could then share a snack with them.
Help Your Child Notice When People Help Them
This makes them recognize the gesture and realize what it feels like to be helped. By pointing out assistance from others, you are helping them notice this way of interaction. By showing them how it benefits them, you can help them have a better understanding of why it would be a good idea for them to be helpful and kind toward others.
Teach Your Child About Recognizing Other People's Needs and Feelings
Help your child recognize other people's needs and feelings. Practice asking your child how other people feel and identifying emotions in yourself or in the child's siblings. Help your child practice identifying how people or characters feel in TV shows or movies and incorporate identification of feelings in real life.
Talk to them about people who are hungry or homeless and how they could benefit from getting gifts during holidays. This could lead to a conversation about giving at a community level so your child can participate in charity efforts when they are older.
Make Family Traditions
Support the development of giving and helping others by creating family traditions that incorporate these concepts. Giving gifts is a common activity during the holiday season. Focus on giving to others and show them how to be grateful for what they receive.
Create family customs that incorporate charitable activities such as volunteering, donating to local organizations, and helping the community or friends and family in specific ways.
Identify Specific Goals
When it comes to helping your child with autism develop the spirit of giving, it can be helpful to identify specific goals. This will depend on your child’s abilities and needs. Consider what specific behaviors or actions your child could learn to do, depending on their age. For instance, teach younger children to ask, "How can I help you?" or, "Do you need help?". Help older kids by creating a goal of donating a certain number of items to animal shelters or hours at a local food bank.
The Spirit of Giving & Autism
Although some people might think that people with autism aren’t considerate of others, this is an unfair stereotype. People with autism can be compassionate and helpful toward others. Some people with autism might even consider other people’s needs far more than they consider their own needs.
Sometimes, the traits of autism do make it difficult to act in a helpful way. Communication difficulties or sensory issues might make it overwhelming for people with autism to socialize in group settings or to do things out of their typical routine. People with autism can learn ways of both accepting themselves and finding ways to be comfortable while also being considerate and helpful toward others.