As we enter another holiday season, it’s likely that our children are in a mood of wanting, wanting, wanting. This is understandable, given our culture of gift-giving around the holidays. Even if we do teach that this is a season of giving, it really is a challenge for our kids to keep that focus. So how do we help our kids see the holiday season primarily as a time to give? Can we shift the focus from wanting to giving? Let’s look at a way to help our kids to make giving important this holiday season.
Talk it up
The first step is of course to talk about giving. If we as parents make a big deal of giving, it will be a bigger deal to our children. So let’s point out examples of giving acts as we see them. Let’s read books about giving and look for ways to give even in our everyday family interactions.
Make it an active practice
Talking about any life skill is rarely enough for our kids to adopt that skill. As we consider the idea of giving, it is important to model it for our children. And even more importantly, we should give our kids opportunities to be active in giving.
This holiday season, let’s give our kids a chance to actively participate in giving. There are so many ways we can do this. Talk with your kids about their ideas too. Taking part in the planning process is important for them as they learn to give.
Neighbors and Friends
We can start with our neighbors and friends. Many of us already look for a way to give to our neighbors and friends during the holiday season. And so, as you consider your annual neighbor and friend gifts, is there a way your kids can help? If you’re baking, maybe there’s a part they can help with. Or if you’re wrapping gifts, your little ones can stick on the bows. And while neighbor gifts can be pretty standard for a lot of us, see if you and your kids can think of something more meaningful for them this year.
During the holiday season, schools and clubs often collect items for people in need. For a lot of us parents, this ends up as another item on our to-do lists. This season, let’s aim to make this a big deal instead of an average necessity or even a hassle. Let’s really get our kids involved and help them understand how their efforts can impact a stranger in need.
Speaking of people in need, there are always people in need around us. Each of our communities has some kind of food bank, homeless shelter, or refuge for victims of abuse. See if you can get information about how to help one of these organizations. Often, there is just as much of a need for volunteers as there is for financial help or donations. And, contrary to what we tend to think, our kids are very capable of serving and loving on people who are in a hard situation. We adults get nervous and feel like it might not be safe, but our kids can be so confident in loving people. Let’s learn to be more like them in this way.
Needs around the world
And to go further, our world is full of people with countless types of needs. There are refugees and victims of human trafficking, and some really wonderful organizations that help them. Domestic abuse organizations often try to provide food or gifts to women and children who have recently escaped and likely have very little. And there are organizations that help you donate supplies or livestock to families in third world areas, so that they can make a living with the things we donate.
Several years ago, my kids used their allowance money to purchase chickens for a family across the world. They each paid for one chicken. It wasn’t much, just a few dollars each. We did this for a few years, and every December, my kids would ask when we were going to get the mailer about the chickens. When it finally came, they would scour the catalog, hoping that maybe they could buy something bigger. They had learned the joy of giving without getting anything back in return. And they loved it.
Use signing in your giving efforts
Once you decide an area to give toward, check out our Signing Time Dictionary and see if there are some signs that can go with your activity. Here are a few signs that could help.
Our kids do have the capacity to care for other people and to make giving important. Let’s help them to actively participate in giving this season.