Washington Post “On Parenting,” Journalist Amy Joyce

Here are tips from the Family Dinner Project, a grassroots movement to encourage eating well and talking over dinner about things that really matter, about how to encourage children to give back.

Text or call someone you appreciate. Talk about people your family appreciates, then take the time to text or call them, telling them so. Talk as a family about the person’s reaction and how it felt to share your gratitude.

Discuss ways to “pay it forward.” Explain that means that when we do something nice for someone, they can then do something nice for someone else. Brainstorm ways to pay it forward together. Examples include putting money in an almost expired meter or pass along a book you liked for someone else to enjoy.

Plan to combine dinner and service. Think of ways to use some of your dinnertime to help other people enjoy a great meal. Volunteer together at a food bank once a month at dinnertime, or make a meal as a family and deliver it to someone who has limited time or resources.

Make giving a part of your regular life. Ask your kids to divide their allowance into three jars: spend, save and give. Establish a family give jar into which everyone contributes. Show your children where you donate your own money and encourage them to donate to causes they believe in, too.

“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” – Pablo Picasso