giving back

Helping kids maintain the giving spirit during the holidays

giving backtips for giving back

Nothing makes me crazier during the holidays than the greedy attitude my children tend to get when asking for presents. Every year I have to make a conscious effort to remind my kids to be giving during the holiday season and with a few easy steps you can too.

Something about sitting on Santa's lap and the twenty relatives asking my children what they want for Christmas turns them into greedy little elves. It takes a lot of redirection to remind my children they are already lucky to have what they have and that they need to tone down their list of "wants" a bit. Here's a few things we do to jog their little memories about the reason for the season.

encourage your children to be giving

1. Give a little, often- When we see the bell ringers at the mall or the police at traffic lights collecting money I always give them money to put in the bucket or encourage them to see if they have a few quarters in their coat pocket to donate. Even if you are only giving a little, it serves as a continuous reminder that there are people out there who need much more than we do.

2. Clean out the toys- This is not an easy one in our house but every year the kids have to "make room for Santa" by choosing some toys they do not use any more to donate to kids who do not have as much. There are often tears but as they've gotten older they are beginning to understand why they need to do this each year.

encouraging the giving spirit in kids

3. Donate your time as a family- My kids are finally getting to the age where they can do service projects with us. Together as a family you can work at a food drive, help with a coat or mitten tree, draw pictures or make a care package for soldiers or participate in community volunteer efforts. Getting them involved gives them a concrete example of how important it is to help others.

4. Include them in your giving- No matter what you do to give to others, tell your kids about it. If you buy the car behind you a coffee, tell the kids "we're buying a coffee for the person behind us. If you're dropping off clothes at a donation center, explain why. Making them a part of your charitable routine makes it a part of their daily living too.

No matter what you do, the important thing is that you make an effort to do something to instill the giving spirit in your kids from an early age. They will thank you for it when they are older!

What do you do to encourage your children to be giving?

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Jessica Watson is the mom to five, four in her arms and one in her heart. When she's not doing the minivan shuffle she's homeschooling her kiddos and cooking things they won't eat. She blogs with her heart on her sleeve at Four Plus an Angel, co-directs Listen To Your Mother Metro Detroit and writes for sites such as Huffington Post, Mamalode and SheKnows.

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