Source: Indys Child Parenting Magazine

The Season of Giving Back
Thinking outside the gift box

December 01, 2013

For kids, Christmas is often all about toys and electronic gadgets. But many parents worry that all this focus on material things isnít healthy for their preteens. According to a December 2011 poll by the Family and Parenting Institute, 84 percent of parents with children younger than age 18 fear that Christmas makes their children more materialistic. How can you make Christmas magical without spoiling your preteen? Instead of banishing presents altogether, consider one of these options:

Volunteer

Whether itís at a soup kitchen or a local hospital, encourage your preteen to give his or her time and attention to those who need it most. Itís important to get your children volunteering while theyíre still young. According to the United Way, people who volunteer in their youth are twice as likely to continue volunteering in adulthood.

Give charitably

Instead of commanding your preteen to give money to charities you might pick, ask your preteen to set aside a portion of his or her weekly allowance for a charity that he or she chooses. You might be surprised at how generous children can be when itís their decision!

Share the material wealth

If you really want to put the emphasis on giving rather than getting, tell your preteen before Christmas day that he or she will have to give one present to the local Toys For Tots drive. As your preteen is choosing which present to give away, ask him or her to consider what a boy or girl of the same age who doesnít have any toys would be most excited about getting.

Organize a food drive

Many communities have local food pantries to help families who are in a tight spot. Have your preteen organize a neighborhood food drive to collect donations of nonperishable food items.

Visit nursing homes

Your child may want to prepare cards or small crafts that can be distributed to patients, learn songs to sing, read aloud or play games with residents. Work with the organization to plan special events for the residents.

Find an animal shelter

Kids may be able to help with cleaning, feeding or walking the rescued animals.

Volunteering is a great way to build relationships, develop skills and help those in need. Studies show that those who volunteer have increased self-confidence and gain interpersonal and communication skills that can be useful in the workplace later on.

Give back with St.Vincent

Peyton Manning Childrenís Hospital at St.Vincent offers plenty of opportunities for your child to give back all year round. Our Capes for Kids program lets you donate costumes and masks to help sick children feel like superheroes. Our Giving Tree program ensures every child at Peyton Manning Childrenís Hospital at St.Vincent receives a gift on Christmas Day. Gifts are also used for birthdays, end-of-treatment parties and as rewards of recognition for how well a child has handled a medical procedure. For more information, visit peytonmanning.stvincent.org or call 317-338-2268.