When I tell fellow parents I choose to raise my children to be altruistic, I am often met with a lot of puzzled faces. What might sound like a complex parenting style is actually very simple.

Being altruistic simply relates to acting selflessly and valuing the well-being of others. Over the years I have seen many benefits from raising my children to be altruistic, such as them avoiding acting selfishly and being able to show compassion for other children they interact with.

Why is being altruistic important?

Altruism is important because without it, society would not prosper and supportive communities would not exist as individuals would only look out for themselves. Altruistic acts can form bonds of friendships and help both individuals and societies grow.

If individuals support each other and show altruism, there is no end to the potential benefits it could achieve.

Why should children be altruistic?

The answer to this question lies in my altruistic story, the journey I took during my parenting to discover the benefits of altruism. When I was a new parent, I had little understanding of what altruism was as it seemed like a concept irrelevant to myself and my new family. Then one day it hit me, I was watching the news and was filled with sadness when watching stories about greed and corruption when the thought occurred to me, did no one teach these people how to share or how to love and act selflessly?

This then made me question myself, am I teaching my children these values? From that day on I began to research altruism in more depth and highlighted features of altruism I wanted my children to understand, in the hope that they would grow up to be compassionate altruistic adults who will create a better, less selfish world.

How do I raise my children to be altruistic?

Sitting and lecturing your children about altruism will probably be met with boredom and will not inspire any positive action, the below tips are some of the alternative ways I try to teach and engage my children with altruism.

Ways I encourage altruism:
  • Encourage them to donate their old toys and explain how another child will enjoy and benefit from their old items.
  • Don’t accept selfish behavior, e.g. if my two children argue over a toy, the toy is removed and neither can have it.
  • Volunteer as a family at local food banks and charity events.
  • Talk to your child about their feelings and encourage them to think about the feelings of others.