It’s the holiday season and no doubt your kids are wondering what they’ll get for Christmas. They might even have a list of things they’d like to get from Santa (or from you). As presents get exchanged, why not use the season to teach kids an important value – giving? Redirect your kids’ focus from what they’ll get to what they can give. After all, Christmas is about celebrating the gift of life.
Wondering what you can do to encourage generosity in kids? Here are some activities that can build that habit and mindset of giving as you approach Christmas day.
Christmas cards can be a family affair. Have your children write small notes to include in your annual greeting to people on your list. Tell them about the people they’re writing to, so they can make the letters more personal. This is also a good time to recall memories with friends and family that your kids might appreciate. You can even ask them to post the letters for you, as their contribution to the effort.
Each day of Advent, have your children drop a gift into a “giving box” meant for charity. The box can be decorated and placed under the Christmas tree, together with other presents. At the end of the season, you’ll have a box of things to share with a charity or orphanage. As a bonus, you can ask your children to wrap the items as presents, making the giving exercise more personal.
Ask your children what their siblings, cousins, or even aunts and uncles would like for Christmas. The idea isn’t to come up with the perfect gift (although it would be awesome if they did). It’s more about building the attitude of thinking about others – what would Amy like? What things does she appreciate? Would this gift match her personality? Getting your kids to think of the recipient in gift-giving builds their sensitivity towards other people.
For every toy or gift item your child receives, ask him or her to give an item from their shelf in exchange. The pre-loved object can be set aside for charity as part of your Christmas donations. This not only gets your child into the habit of living with less (and away from the habit of hoarding) but also helps you declutter your home. It’s a double win for you!
You can get your neighbours to join this activity. Have everyone come together and prepare goodies for a local charity, soup kitchen, orphanage or home. Get the children involved in making cookies or other treats – you can ask visiting kids to bring their own cookie cutters! To manage logistics, prepare the cookie dough in advance. When everyone’s ready, just roll out the dough and let the kids cut cookies to their heart’s delight. You can even do this more than once and take turns hosting the baking. Afterwards, get the children to help wash up!
You can start a new Christmas family tradition of doing good by volunteering at a local old folks’ home or orphanage. These activities are more meaningful when done as a community so try to get some other families involved as well! Getting your kids to volunteer during Christmas helps them see what other people’s lives are like during the holidays – and deepen their appreciation for what they have.
Created by a British mom, Kindness Elves encourage children to practice random acts of kindness each day. Placed anywhere around the house, they prompt members of the family to do something nice with little notes. You can create your own Kindness Elves and customize the acts of kindness and giving. Suggest simple things like putting away their toys early or helping dad shovel the snow off the driveway. You can also encourage your kids to do nice things in school like “give someone a sweet during recess” or “write a thank-you note for your teacher”. Remember that small gestures go a long way!
Christmas is always a magical season for small children and it doesn’t have to be tied to the gifts they get. Help them build a greater appreciation for the season by teaching them that it’s always more blessed to give than to receive.