It’s the holiday season, a time when most people are in the giving spirit. Your children certainly feel the generosity, but it’s likely they’re on the receiving, rather than the giving, end. Isn’t it time they experienced the joy of giving, too?
Because there’s so much giving going on, the holiday season is the perfect time to teach kids virtues such as charity, generosity, and selflessness. As usual, the first step is setting a positive example yourself. Experts, like parenting specialist and psychotherapist Alyson Schafer, believe that parents who make charity a priority will have children who grow up with a similar attitude. Children will be even more likely to adopt a charitable attitude if you involve them in the process of giving, and allow them to choose charitable acts that mean something to them. Looking for some ideas?
Deliver some of your child’s used toys and clothes to a charitable organization like the Salvation Army or Goodwill – and make sure to take your child along on the trip. Explain to your child that while these items may be outmoded to them, they could be extremely valuable to those less fortunate.
Another idea is to visit hospitals, nursing homes, and even pet shelters. The holidays can be a lonely time for those who may not have family and friends that can visit. Spending time with the elderly and infirm, and even bringing gifts and treats along, will provide a much needed boost of holiday cheer.
If you feel you can afford it, providing a complete holiday dinner for a needy family can be a very meaningful act. Ask your children to help you come up with a shopping list, then seek a religious or community outreach organization to deliver the meal to a family in need. Non-profit organizations such as Feeding America and Ample Harvest aid hunger relief efforts through nationwide networks of food banks.
Finally, don’t forget to count the things for which you and your kids are thankful. Place emphasis on things other than material items, like family and friends. Not only will this activity give your child a sense of humility, it will reaffirm the generosity you’ve been teaching them, and inspire them to continue their charitable endeavors. In the words of author and motivational speaker Pervis Taylor III, “Giving is not a season or a moment, it is a lifestyle.”
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