No matter what you believe, what your religion is, which country you live in or even whether you celebrate Christmas or not…the last three months of the year is a time to reflect on the year that is drawing to a close. It is a time to give thanks for all the wonderful ways in which we have been blessed and to spread some love and joy, especially to those in need.
But what are we doing to teach the next generations about generosity and just putting a smile on the face of those less fortunate? Are we doing everything we can to model this behaviour for them? After all, everything a child learns is from watching those around them. How do we go about teaching our children the real value in giving?
Sharing is caring
The first step to teaching young children about giving is to teach about sharing. Children generally have the desire to see those around them happy. Generally, they feel joy in giving something to those they love but often want to keep it for themselves instead. This is when they learn to share something they want with others.
Giving doesn’t have to mean spending
In this materialistic time, this is a good lesson to teach. Young children are still developing their creativity and will even enjoy making gifts. Cookies, a picture, “gift vouchers”, etc. This helps them understand that it’s the thought that counts.
If you do decide to buy gifts, allow your child to give input on the selection process. But try not to spend too much. By keeping the gift budget low, this way the focus is on the sentimental value, not monetary value.
Some ideas for acts of kindness:
- Put together care bags with basic toiletries for the homeless. Maybe even include a bottle of water and some crackers or energy bars.
- Let them sort out their toys and put any old or unwanted toys aside to be given away to orphanages/children in hospital. The same can be done with clothes and blankets, especially in winter. (Please Note: it is important to explain that these items will no longer be theirs)
- If you have a homeless shelter or food kitchen in your neighbourhood, take your children to volunteer there.
- Spend some time at a home for the elderly. Many of their residents would just love the company.
- Go for a walk around your town and help by cleaning up any litter. You could even go a step further and find out if/where you could plant a tree or two.
- Visit your local SPCA and let your kiddos have some fun playing with the animals. Or even open your home to foster them.
The list is endless. There are so many things that we can do to nurture generosity and empathy in the next generations.
We should always remember that they will learn best by watching us. They will not continue with this unless we do it too. I think the best way to teach them is to continue to do it with them.
Having giving heart should not only be kept for the festive season. It should be a lifestyle and always be practised. This will ensure that the focus is not on receiving the gifts but rather to give.