With the holiday season approaching, many children are eagerly creating lists and dreaming of a morning filled with toys, gadgets, and gifts for them. They dream of stockings stuffed and trees overflowing with presents as their wishes are fulfilled. But what if the best thing we could get our kids is not under the tree? What if the best thing we can do this holiday season is to teach our children that the true joy lies in giving to others.
The Joy of Giving To Others
Children are naturally more concerned with what they can get. Yet we all know that it is better to give than to receive. Even the most loving and thoughtful child, however, becomes concerned with what they are getting as the holiday’s approach.
They craft lists and dream up a Christmas morning filled with happiness as their dreams of the newest toy or the latest electronic device come true.
As a parent, though, my goal is to navigate the Christmas season teaching them the importance of giving and sharing, not just asking and receiving.
Yet what is a parent to do this holiday season? And how are we to teach the joy of giving to others?
3 Tips to Help Children Learn the Joy of Giving
As our youngest is nearly 7, we have passed the age where what they want is the only thing on our children’s minds as the holidays approach.
This didn’t happen by chance, though. Rather it happened as we taught them, year after year, that there is joy to be found in giving a gift.
However, this had to be taught.
1. Model a giving heart
Easier said than done, but one of the best ways we can embed a joy of giving into our children’s hearts is to model a giving heart.
Whether you give them the last cookie in the jar or share a box of chocolates that was given to you, this shows our children what giving joyfully looks like.
It’s not always easy – there are times we really do want that last cookie – but the reward is modeling the behavior we want our children to have. Naturally showing them how easy it is to share with other and put their needs first.
Living the behavior we would like from our children is the best way to lead by example and show our children that we are who we would like them to become.
2. Adopt a child or family for the holidays
We see them everywhere, and perhaps you have done this before, but adopting a child (or even a whole family) for the holiday helps our children see the joy of giving.
This can be done easily by grabbing the name of a child or two from the giving tree often set up in larger stores. Take your child with you as you read the child’s name, age, and the gift they would like.
Further, have your child help you shop for this child with you. Help them select the right color shirt, the perfect toy doll, or the video game the child has requested. Let your child be a part of the process of giving and answer any questions they may have honestly.
Additionally, add a small item or two extra. Socks, mittens, hats, or even a candy bar. Explain to your child that you are doing this because you know you are blessed and because you want to be a blessing to others.
This entire trip is best done when you aren’t shopping for other items. This is not the time to create a multi-page shopping list bouncing from store to store. It is time to show your child just how enjoyable it can be to help others at a time when so many go without.
If you are looking to adopt a family, check with your local town office for the names of families in need in your area. As with a single child, have your child help throughout the process. Just, remind them to be mindful if the family you adopt happens to be a family you know. The last thing you want is for a joyous moment to become embarrassing if something is made public that shouldn’t be.
3. Look for opportunities to give back in your community
With your children, look for local opportunities right in your community to give to. Possibly this is as simple as baking deserts and delivering them to the local nursing home or police station. Perhaps you help at a soup kitchen or bring a meal to a neighbor. Maybe you simply offer to shovel the driveway of an elderly friend.
No matter the task, find a way to give right in your little corner of the world. Brighten the lives of others by giving of your time and talents and show your children just how joyful giving can truly be.
Teaching Children the Joy of Giving
This time of year, we are inundated with wants and requests. It’s a natural part of the season.
Yet, it doesn’t need to be the focus.
While children can ask for games and gadgets, requests new and updated this or that, they also need to learn a skill that is lacking yet sorely missed in our consumeristic world – the joy of giving.
So set aside some time this year and see if you can implement one or more of these ideas into your holiday routine and see if you can help teach the heart of your child. Show them the value of imparting kindness and compassion into their life and the joy that can be found in giving.
Look for ways to model a giving nature in your home. Find ways to help a child or family in your neighborhood. And work to give back to your community.
Not only does the world need more helpers, but it also needs more joy. And the best way we can give the world more joy is to teach our children the joy of giving this holiday season.
- Teaching Your Homeschooled Children the Joy of Giving - November 23, 2019