Children are born with giving hearts, and if they are taught at a young age that giving should be a part of their lives, they do so naturally and compassionately.
I have seen this with my own son who is now 8. He began receiving an allowance at age 4, and a part of that money was always set aside for giving. Sometimes he gives to church, but he likes to give when he sees natural disasters. When he watched the news about the earthquake in Haiti a few years ago, he sent all of his give money to the Red Cross’ relief fund.
The Christmas season is the perfect time to instill a sense of giving in your children. Here are some ways you can show them how to be givers:
1. Buy a gift for a needy child. Each year, at the local post office and some stores like Whole Foods, there are Christmas trees adorned with cards that give a child’s name, age, and preferred Christmas gift. We choose one every year and buy a gift for the child. I am always amazed how excited our kids get picking the gift and wrapping it.
2. Have your child give a gift away. Some families, overrun by gifts for their children from well-meaning friends and relatives, have their child choose one gift to give away to charity. I haven’t done this because I am afraid it would upset the gift giver, but I know other families have had good luck with this.
3. Sponsor a needy child. There are many organizations where you can send money each month to a needy child, and in return, you get updates on how the child is doing and what the money is used for. Some groups to consider include Compassion, World Vision and Child Fund. My husband and I are planning to sponsor 3 different children, each mirroring our own children’s gender and age. This is a great way to teach your children that not all children are as fortunate as they are as well as to understand the living situations in other countries.
4. Visit a nursing home. Many elderly who live in nursing homes do not have relatives who live nearby to visit them. Make some cookies and other treats and deliver them to the nursing home. Spend some time talking to the residents. (Just call the nursing home ahead of time to see what time is best to visit.)
5. Volunteer. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer with your child this holiday season. You can help at your church to organize food baskets for the needy or volunteer at a soup kitchen. One of the most famous women in the world, Princess Diana, taught her sons to be givers by visiting with AIDS patients and others. Her boys still carry on charitable work.
6. Have them use their money to buy gifts for their siblings. Christmas is about giving, and one way to teach that is to have your children buy gifts for one another. They don’t have to be expensive; it is the thought that counts. My son spent $4 of his money to buy each of his sisters a book from his Scholastic book order. If you have smaller children as we do, help them make a gift for their sibling.
We live in an age where the holidays can bring out the worst in people. Just look at some of the brawls that erupted on Black Friday. The true meaning of Christmas is about celebrating the joy of Jesus’ birth and giving to one another. Your children are never too young to learn this lesson, and the holidays will be more joyful.
What is your favorite way to teach your children to develop a giving spirit?
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