The “giving season” is quickly approaching us. I say that somewhat sarcastically because I truly believe that giving should be a year-long affair – not just something focused on from Thanksgiving through Christmas but that’s another soapbox for another day 😉
Seriously, there is more focus on giving during the next few months. Especially to make the holiday seasons more bearable and enjoyable for those less fortunate than many of us – whether it’s financially, emotionally, and/or physically.
Teaching our children to be givers at an early age helps instill in them a behavior that will follow them through their lives.
First and foremost, we must not FORCE our children to give. This totally defeats the purpose. Making it a chore or punishment takes away the unselfishness and “feel good” feeling that should be associated with giving. By giving them options and engaging them in the giving process, you will get them excited about helping others.
Give to organizations they can relate to. For example, during Christmas, I have my children pick a child from our local Angel Tree that’s their age. They are given a budget to spend and shop based on items they would like to have but understand that there’s a child out there that they are helping to have a happy Christmas morning, too. (This is a two-fold lesson on giving and budgeting…win-win!)
Children learn patterns and behaviors by patterning themselves after the adults in their lives. Show your child how to give by being an active giver. Let them see you volunteering and giving back to your community.
Give thanks on a regular basis for what you have. Keep a family gratitude journal or establish a ritual of listing something you’re thankful for each day at dinner-time.
Find children’s books that teach about giving (my favorite is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein) and read them to one another.
Support local food and clothing drives by giving out of your closets or pantry with your children’s help.
These are just a few suggestions we try to implement in our household.
What traditions does your family have to include your children in the giving process?