This time of year, we naturally think of giving. We may also be thinking of the gifts we will be receiving. Studies have found that giving is good for you. It’s beneficial to your health by keeping stress in check and lowers the risk of early death. Helping others brings more happiness into your life. Research out of the University of Wisconsin-Madison shows it can even boost your happiness at work. The best part about giving is what it does for others by allowing more people to benefit from each other’s generosity. Read on to discover 5 ways you can teach your children about giving.
Every Christmas, I used to have my three nephews over for the night for the sole purpose of making gifts for their parents and grandparents. The gifts weren’t anything elaborate. I made sure they were something the kids could do on their own. They made beaded keychains and decorated picture frames. The gift ideas were fun and creative. Each year, before they started the project, they would decide for whom they would make their gifts. One child would make the gifts for their mom and dad, and the other two would make the gifts for each set of grandparents. The joy they had in making them was fun to see, but it was even more precious when it came time to giving that gift to the recipient. I never knew who was more excited, the givers or the receivers. To this day, every parent and grandparent still treasures those gifts, and it taught my nephews valuable lessons about giving.
The thing about giving is that it doesn’t come naturally. It’s a habit that has to be taught. One of the best ways to teach children about giving and charity is to incorporate it into our daily family activities. Here are some simple giving ideas that will help instill the wonderful virtue of giving into our children:
- Donate Clothes and Toys – Periodically go through your closet to donate clothes you no longer wear. Encourage your children to do the same with their clothes and toys. When you drop off the clothes and toys, bring your children along, too. That way they will be able to experience the joy of giving from start to finish.
- Help Neighbors – Every neighborhood has at least one family who may need some extra help. Elderly neighbors may need to have their leaves raked or their sidewalks shoveled in the winter. Maybe someone has been sick and they could use a little help around the house or a nice home-cooked meal.
- Volunteer – There are plenty of ways for families to volunteer together. Find a cause that everyone feels passionate about and then get out and volunteer your time as a family.
- Pay it Forward with Small Acts of Kindness – Leave a note on a stranger’s car wishing them a nice day. When you go to the store, buy some extra groceries and give them to a stranger. Pay for a stranger’s lunch or coffee. A kind word or kind act, no matter how small, can have a tremendous impact.
- Give Money to Your Favorite Local Charity – Don’t just write a check, be creative and make it fun. Maybe you have a jar in which everyone puts their loose change. When it’s full, allow one of your children to decide what charity will receive the donation.
There are so many more ways you can teach your children about giving. If you have any of your own, please share them with us here.