Teaching Your Child to Give at Christmas and All Year Through
Every Christmas when my girls were young, we looked forward to going to the mall.
We loved looking at all the decorations and the lights, and of course they loved looking in the toy stores!
But the main reason they were excited for our mall outings was the Giving Tree that was there every year.
We would carefully choose from the needy children on the tags that were attached to the Giving Tree. And, we had such joy in buying clothing, toys, and books for those children. My kids still talk about doing this as a holiday tradition, and we now are able to choose needy children from lists
available at our church.
It is so important to teach your children about those who are less fortunate, not just at Christmas, but all the year through.
The Christmas season just happens to be a good time to talk about this with them as they are making their own Christmas lists, sometimes with a good case of the “gimmes”. It is important to let children exercise their own naturally charitable instincts by helping them realize that they can make a
difference in someone else’s life.
Children learn best by example!
They watch their parents to see what you are doing in your own lives to help others. If you are going to deliver a meal to a sick friend or donate some of your clothing to charity, talk about it! Let your children know that this is a normal part of your family life, and that helping people is every bit as important as going to work or school, cleaning the house, or paying the bills.
You don’t need a special occasion like Christmas to talk about the importance and joy of giving to others.
Passing a homeless person on the street is a good occasion to talk about the fact that some families don’t have enough money to pay for a place to
live. Visiting an elderly or sick relative or friend is an opportunity to discuss just how important it is to reach out to those who are lonely or in need.
Although some parents worry about exposing their children to painful experiences that might haunt them later, children are usually very resilient. And, the joy that is experienced in the giving outweighs any sadness they may encounter.
There are many opportunities to give back.
You may find some of these at the church you attend. But, you can also do things such as donating to a local food pantry, donating clothes to Goodwill or the Salvation Army, or donating old blankets or pet food to an animal shelter. If you ask, the animal shelter may let your children take a tour so that they can see the animals they helped. Buy some extra school supplies at back-to-school time to donate to children who can’t afford to buy their own.
Other ideas include: writing letters or drawing pictures to send to our troops.
You can search the internet for where to send your artwork. Or, send the letters and pictures to an elderly relative or neighbor. Even better, pay them a visit and deliver the pictures! Older children can help the elderly by doing yardwork or shoveling snow.
I have found several great books to share with your children this season, and I wanted to share them with you! The first two are oldies-but-goodies that I read with my children when they were small:
by Jan BerenstainBrother and Sister Bear can’t wait for all the presents they will open on Christmas.
And yet they learn a very valuable lesson about the joy of giving!
written by Charles TazewellThere is a new edition of this book!
When the Littlest Angel learns to live happily in Heaven, he finds a special gift for the baby Jesus.
And two more recently written books:
by Jan WaldronA family of piggies discovers that although they don’t have a lot of money to buy the shiny things at the mall they learn,
“The best giving is done with your heart”.
by Katie KliseThis beautifully illustrated book is a snug tale of friendship and mother-child love, communicating the Christmas message that giving begets joy.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to give back. Give your child the great gift of thinking that he or she has the power to make the world a better place! And remember, to those that much has been given, much is expected. It is good in the sight of God and also in our hearts!
Blessings to you in this Advent season,