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Ways To Teach Kids ‘Tis Better To Give Than Receive
It is better to give than to receive, however young children can easily be swept away with the “receiving” part of the holiday merriment. Commercialism and stress during the holiday season can sometimes get the best of us and often we struggle to convey the true meaning of the holidays to our children. No matter what holiday you celebrate, it is important to make a concerted effort to emphasize the spirit of the season. In a world of Santa, decorations, toys, and shopping it is hard to compete and easy to lose focus, but the extra attention and effort we take in this endeavor leaves a positive and lasting impression on our children.
Emphasizing the heart of the holidays does not need to be costly or elaborate and it certainly shouldn’t take away from the fun. There are very simple and natural ways of allowing children to experience the joy of giving, the celebration of kindness, and the importance of gratitude. All it takes is a little planning.
How to Teach Kids "It is Better to Give Than Receive"
The Joy of Giving
Children find great joy in giving when actively involved in the process. It can be as simple as having them participate with the shopping for family gifts and letting them help wrap. Making the process of giving both meaningful and enjoyable will foster the giving spirit all year long.
Receiving all those new toys is an opportunity to replace some older ones. Encourage your child to donate some of their gently used items to a local hospital, clinic, or head start program. Let them be an active part of it, even if they express sadness or conflicted emotions. The difficulty of parting with possessions is an important thing to work through when teaching children the personal sacrifices involved with philanthropy.
Gifts of Kindness
Celebrate the 12 days of Christmas with 12 Acts of Kindness! Send homemade cards to U.S. soldiers through the Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes or to a terminally ill child at www.hugsandhope.org. Spend an afternoon baking treats and deliver them to volunteers and neighbors. Lots of great ideas can be found on www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas , such as distributing candy canes in town, cleaning up a park or playground, doing a sibling’s chore, taping quarters to gum ball machines or parking meters, and giving out compliments.
Promoting Gratitude and Appreciation
Have your child show their appreciation to local police, fire fighters, or school staff by distributing baked goods, homemade thank you cards, or little packets of hot chocolate.
After the holidays, encourage your child to send thank you notes or pictures to people who gave them gifts. Stressing thankfulness and gratitude helps children grow into adults who feel appreciative rather than entitled.
Creating experiences for our children that revolve around giving, caring, kindness, and gratitude during the holidays instills the values of empathy and philanthropy that they will carry with them throughout their lifetime.
How do you encourage your children to give and be grateful during the holidays?
Alicia DiFabio obtained her doctorate in psychology from Loyola College. She is the mother of four girls and a published essayist working on her first book. She blogs about motherhood, family, and special needs at Welcome To My Planet.