Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

Teaching Your Kids the Joy of Giving
Leading by example

by Mary Susan Buhner

December 01, 2011

Christmas is a perfect time of year to teach your kiddos about the joy of giving. I have always tried to teach my kids that it is better to give than receive a gift. This can be extremely tough to teach considering that as parents, we are competing with endless commercials, ads and even people that tell our children what they need.

I am 100 percent onboard with the spirit of Christmas and all the family fun and traditions that go along with it for the season. Santa comes to our house too with many of the gifts from their Santa list. However, as they have grown, I realized that saying the phrase, “It is better to give than to receive,” actually was hard for them to comprehend, especially when they were downloading their new thingy to their new whatcha-call-it.

I realized, in fact, that I had to help them connect the dots so that they experienced it and truly understood not only how fortunate as a family we are, but how important it is to give to others in need. It just seemed fitting for the age of my kids to start this experience during the holiday season. Starting the tradition of giving back seemed to click during the Christmas season for them and now that they are older, we try to continue it all year long. It was, in fact, important for us to show them the difference between need and want and to be grateful for the gifts they do receive.

This time of year there are so many ways to do this as a family. The most important thing is to set aside some time to talk about it as a family. You can do it in the car when everyone is buckled up and you have a captive audience or over a family meal. We started the tradition of reading the classic book, “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein to our kids and then talking about it with them.

There are countless ways to approach the subject of giving to others so find one that fits best with your family. After talking about it, come up with a plan to give back. It doesn’t have to be over the top or overly thought-out. It can, in fact, start at home and be easy.

For example, preschool and elementary children can go through their belongings and donate toys, books, or clothes this holiday season. Open your pantry door and fill up a grocery bag from your own kitchen with items that can be given to a local food pantry. Go through closets and donate coats, scarves and hats to a coat drive. You could also suggest your kiddo put aside some of their allowance to donate to a charity that means something to your family. Involve your kids in the process. It is always easier to do it yourself, but it is important for them to be a part of the process to understand the concept of giving to others.

If your kiddos are old enough another beneficial way for them to learn is to give their time. This can take a bit more planning, but is well worth it when teaching your kids the joy of giving. Volunteering at a soup kitchen, teaching a Sunday School class, or participating in a charity fundraiser are all great ways to give your time and support a cause that benefits others. Leading by example, you will show your children how important giving back is and you will teach them the joy of giving in the process!