The gift of giving
Laina Shulman, DC
Children are bombarded with messages about the latest and greatest gifts to put on their holiday wish lists. Teach children about the gift of giving.
It starts just after Halloween. Children are bombarded with messages about the latest and greatest presents to put on their lists for the holidays. It is normal for children to be excited about holiday presents, but how can we teach them that giving is just as much fun as receiving?
Begin by setting aside an evening to talk to your children about what they are grateful for in their own lives. Make this a fun event, perhaps with a special snack or a game they love to play. Ask each family member to create a list of the top five things they are thankful for. Ask your children how they feel the generosity of others has affected their own lives. Perhaps someone has volunteered to coach their soccer team, donated school supplies to their class, or invited them somewhere special. When children recognize how full their own lives are, it becomes easier for them to think about giving.
Make It Their Decision
As you begin to discuss your family’s plan to give back over the holidays, be sure to empower your children with options. Educate them about the variety of opportunities to give and ask them what most interests them. It’s a good idea to contact a charity that you would like to work with in order to find out what their needs are. For example, if you wish to donate toys, perhaps it would be most helpful to direct your generosity toward a specific age group that is often forgotten.
As your children begin to learn about the needs of others–both in their community and around the world–they will be able to use their creativity and imagination when deciding how to give back. It may be helpful to ask them what they would most like to receive. For example, if they love to read, perhaps a book drive would be motivating.
Teach the Power of Kindness
As your children give back ensure that they understand the impact they have made with their generosity, and let them know that you are proud of their efforts. If they have donated an animal to a developing nation, for example, explain to them how their animal will help the family that receives it. Ask them how they would feel if they were in need and received a present they weren’t expecting. When children see how powerful a random act of kindness can be, they will be motivated to continue to give in the future.
Who doesn’t enjoy watching their children tear open their presents with excitement? However, encouraging your children to give back allows them to feel the warmth that comes with an act of kindness. That feeling just might be the best present of all.
Here are some wonderful ways children can give back (with a little help from their parents):