There are so many opportunities throughout the holiday to teach children about generosity. Children are not just born with the ability to be empathetic and generous. This is something that must be taught and nurtured. There is no better time to do this than the holidays. Many children are being raised in a “give me, give me” world and it is up to parents to teach children that life is not all about getting, but also about giving and service to others. Below are 5 simple ways to teach generosity and empathy for others.
1. Let the Elf on the Shelf teach giving for you! Toy Clean Out:
Have the magical little elf to encourage your child/children to go through their toys and find some that they can donate to a non-profit (Partners In Learning, Goodwill, or a homeless shelter). Explain that, for many parents, buying gifts for friends and family may be difficult, so this is a way to help these families out. If you encounter resistance, the “make room for new presents” strategy can be very persuasive. When the basket is full, have your child go with you to take it to the charity.
2. Re-imagined Elf on the Shelf: I saw a post a few weeks back about Kindness Elves as a alternative to the Elf on the Shelf. I’m thinking this is a great way to re-imagine your Elf as one who praises, encourages and completes acts of kindness.
3. Donate books: A friend recently told me she takes the pre-holiday period as a chance to sit down with her children to pare down on their books in anticipation of the Christmas influx. She had her children participate and go with her to donate them to the little libraries in town so they could talk about giving to children who don’t have any books. Partners In Learning has a little library out front or you can find one near you at Little Free Library
4. Operation Christmas Child: Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international relief organization. They ship these simple gifts outside the United States to children affected by war, poverty, natural disaster, famine, and disease; and to children living on Native American reservations in the U.S. I have done these for years with my children and now do them with my grandchildren. They look forward to going with me to the Dollar Tree and filling the box. They write a note or draw a picture to go into the box.
5. Give a heartfelt gift to local first responders – Take handmade goodies, like cookies or a pan of brownies to a local fire, police, or EMS department in your community. Show your appreciation for the men and women who help us in our hours of greatest need! This is also a great way to spend time making memories with your child.