How to Help Kids From Low-Income Families

On this site I talk a lot about how low-income families can thrive. It’s completely possible to live a full and joyful life no matter what your dollar amount. Sometimes it’s a little tougher though, and you have to get creative to provide for your family what they need.

However, there’s also another side of the coin. Being a child in a low-income home can be really tough. I know this because I was one. And while I believe it shaped me to be who I am, I can’t deny that there were times in my life that I was teased and ridiculed, and felt embarrassed that people knew I was poor.

That being said, I was very blessed. I was surrounded by families who took special interest in me and gave me opportunities I would not have had if they hadn’t stepped in and took it upon themselves to do for me what I couldn’t do for myself.

I had friends and their parents invite me over often for dinner and sleepovers all the time, pay my way to attend various youth events, take me on day trips, and even take me on their family vacation.

When you are the poor kid at school it can feel humiliating and like you are not good enough. People walking alongside you, helping you get a foot up as well as just being your friend can take the sting away of the financial struggles your family may be suffering at home.

There are so many kids out there this very minute who need someone to reach out to them. Luke 3:11 says: And He answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” God has told us time and time again in the Bible that He wants us to share with the poor. You can literally change a child’s life by helping them in their time of need.

How to help children from low-income families

Have your child pack extra snacks in their lunch to give to their friend. When I was a in grade 5 I had a friend who would give me her pudding or fruit cup from her lunch bag every single day. This was always a huge treat for me. I also had a friend in high school who would buy lunch in the school cafeteria often and would always share it with me. While I usually had a piece of bologna between two slices of buttered bread for lunch ( I know there are kids out there who go to school without a single thing in their lunch), something more substantial was a welcome change.

Bring the child on outings. More than likely if the child’s family is struggling financially they are not going out to do anything special. I can recall so many trips with my friends and their families. They took me out to eat with them, out for ice cream, to the movies, on day trips, and even on a couple family vacations.

Offer them hand-me-downs. Clothes are not cheap, and if a family has little money they will find it difficult to buy new clothes. If you have clothes that may fit the child, see if they would like them.

Sponsor them for camps andextra-curriculars. A lot of times children from low-income homes would LOVE to take part in school activities or Summer camps but it is just out of the question because of the tight family budget.

Sometimes organizations, camps, and schools have funds for people to donate money to for children who can’t pay the fees for things such as band trips, sport team equipment, and more. Try to donate to these funds or even pay for a particular child’s extra-curricular needs directly.

When I was in a high school musical I couldn’t afford some of the costume accessories. One day a teacher brought two pairs of shoes for me to pick from that I needed for my role. I will never forget her generosity, nor will I forget the fact that she never pointed out why she was doing it. She just casually pulled them out and asked me which pair I wanted.

Buy them something during school events when you buy your own child something. Things like school book fairs and pizza lunch days can be particularly disappointing fora child who always has to miss out while they watch everyone around them take part.

Don’t ask them what their parents”do”. This is a question we just shouldn’t ask kids,period. If a child is from a low-income family their parents may not be working, or if they are working it could be a lower end job. Children catch on quickly that people consider others with higher paying jobs as more respectable and kids can feel a sense of shame when asked that question.

Help them prepare for the future. Not all the time, but often kids who come from low-income homes have parents who weren’t able to go to college or even finish high school for one reason or another. Without that example kids can feel lost when figuring out how to navigate a plan for their own future. The whole process of post-secondary school can feel overwhelming and confusing.

Talk to them about what they plan to do after high school. Explain to them how the process works. Teach them that they can get a job as a teen to start saving for school and that they don’t have to rely on loans but that if they need it, loans are there to help them so they don’t have to miss out on school. Help them apply for part-time jobs. Teach them how to budget. Help them understand that their past doesn’t dictate their future.

BE SOMEONE THEY CAN TRUST TO NEVER SINGLE THEM OUT

Whenever you reach out to a child who is from a low-income environment you want to do it with tact and privacy. You don’t want to announce in front of their whole group of friends that you are paying for them to go to an event, or that you have clothes for them because you noticed the ones they are wearing are looking old. The best way to reach out to them is to avoid making them feel like charity. Kids are smart and even young kids don’t want to feel like a “project”. Avoid pointing out that you are paying for something for them because their parents can’t cover the cost.

The biggest thing a child from a financially unstable home wants is to feel just like everyone else. Talk to them the same way you would talk to a child from a higher income home. Treat them as if their family’s income is not a barrier and that they can accomplish whatever goal they want, as long as they work hard to do so. 

And maybe most importantly, never make assumptions about their parents.  The dollar amount of what parents bring into the home does not dictate how much they love their child.  Low-income parents adore their children just as much as someone who makes a higher income.  Never assume otherwise.

If you have the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a child whose family may be struggling financially, I highly recommend doing so.  Not only will the child be blessed, you will be blessed in return.  The relationships you can build with these kids can last a lifetime. 

Even still, as an adult I am able to visit or chat with some of those people who were there for me as a child.  They are so important to me. Many have become like family to me. Those moments of them reaching out to me as a child were the stepping stones that built a solid foundation for a lifetime connection.  

Related: How to Afford the Cost of Having a Child

6 thoughts on “How to Help Kids From Low-Income Families”

  1. Many thanks to you for sharing these heart-warming experiences with us!
    I am so glad you made it through and became a writer to enlighten and give hope to others!

    Post-divorce, my children and I had a hard time economically, but there were always the children’s friends and their parents to help out. They didn’t mind one more person at their dinner table, would bring my childern (one by one) along when they went to the mall, a restaurant or an outing. Luckily, my children never felt inferior from this charity and good-heartedness. since they were good friends at school and/or neighbour kids.

    Fortunately, my children were good at school, and so their friends often came to them in order to get help with their home assignments or studying before examinations. Thanks to this, my children never felt inferior.
    Their friends would also come over to us for dinner. Whenever they were coming over to play, and it was dinner time, they would eat with us – not the elaborate meals that they used to have at home, of course, but they actually enjoyed my split-pea soup with warm bread or lentil stew. – For them, it was a change to their usual menu and they enjoyed that.
    Whenever my children’s friends came over, and we didn’t have anything to snack on, their friends would gather all the little coins that they had and – together with my children – go and buy something tasty from the shop. Then they would all return to our home and sit and enjoy the snacks all together.

    My son had particularly good friends. When they were planning to go to a cafe or kiosk after school, they refused to go unless he came with them, although they knew he hardly ever had any money. They would buy the same food for him as for themselves, always being happy that he came with them, and then – that one time he did have money, he would invite them, although they never asked him to. Young gentlemen, indeed, I must say!

    Being poor when it comes to money, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are resourceless in other ways.
    As for my part, I could only work a few hours every week due to illness, and money was really short, but we had other strengths. We tried to help others in the ways we could, giving homework help and helping kids to study before exams.
    That was really appreciated, and we were never, as far as I know of, being looked down upon.

    In our part of the world, I suppose it all comes down to having good neighbours and trying to be a good neighbour yourself…

    1. Thank you so much for sharing these stories. It does my heart good. It sounds like your kids had good friends and that you raised great kids yourself.

  2. And, as always, your posts are really thoughtful and comprehensive!
    Not many bloggers put such effort into their writing as you do… and the result is very illuminating and helpful!
    Thank you!

      1. And you have made mine – many times over! I am new to your blog, but as soon as I began to read it, I found it to be different from usual blogs, because of the depth and breadth of the content and the thoughtfulness and thoroughness you put into it. Perhaps it has to do with me being a teacher by profession… I immediately recognize an A+ essay:-)
        And you have all my respect… after all those hard years, you still mention that you were blessed in many ways. And now, your writing gives so much knowledge, empathy and hope to other people in dire situations! What a wise and good thing to do!!!

        1. Wow. I am so glad my blog stood out to you. I have only been blogging here for 10 months but my aim is to be authentic and use those tough moments in life to hopefully connect with others. Also, may I say, I have a lot of respect for teachers. It is not an easy profession and yet so undervalued. I will never forget certain teachers in my life. Teachers hugely impact those around them!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *