How to Teach Your Children about Giving This Holiday Season

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Much of your child’s holiday excitement probably comes from the gifts they receive. For you, too, it’s unforgettable to watch them joyously open their presents. However, as a grown-up, you know there’s more to this time of year than just gift-getting. Giving makes the season even sweeter—and it’s time for your kids to learn that lesson, too. Here are six ways to help them do so: 

1. Pack an Extra Snack. Let your little one partake in the holiday giving so they can feel what it’s like. Start by packing them two snacks in their lunchbox—one for them and one for a friend. Let them choose who to share a sweet with, then ask them after school how it went. They’re likely to have a good story, and they’ll start to see how good it feels to give to others. 

2. Start a Share Jar. If your child receives an allowance or your teen has a part-time job, show them how to divide up their cash. Put some into a savings jar, some into a spending pile, and then set some aside to donate. Now’s a great time to either start the donate bank or highlight it amongst all three containers—the season is for giving, after all. 

Once your child understands what it means to donate their cash, give them the power to choose where their money goes. For instance, if your kid loves a particular animal, you might be able to find a charity dedicated to preserving the species. Or, they might want to help another child through an organization like the Make-a-Wish Foundation, which provides once-in-a-lifetime experiences to kids with life-threatening diseases. 

3. Don’t Overdo It. You can’t expect your child to re-learn what they know about the holidays if you don’t change the way you present them at home. As such, you shouldn’t focus on the gifts as the main event of the season. Instead, stick to meaningful family traditions and cut down on the gifts you give. In terms of the latter, some parents stick to the want, need, wear, read rule, handing over one gift from each category, and that’s it.

Of course, it’s up to you to decide how big or small your holiday celebration will be. Just take a critical eye to everything you’re doing this year—does it take away from the holidays’ giving spirit? If so, change things up so that the holiday reflects your values. 

4. Volunteer Together. The holidays are a great time to take up a volunteer cause. We already mentioned donating money—and teaching your kids to do so. However, you might also give your time to help others, and your kids will certainly learn a lesson in partaking. Plus, engaging in charitable acts can spark a philanthropic streak in your children. Realizing it’s a fun and rewarding activity that they get to do with you will make it even sweeter. 

There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for kids of all ages. Teens and older kids might be able to help at a soup kitchen or food bank to prepare holiday meals. Even if you can’t bring little ones along for a Christmastime charity event, have them help you with another project. For instance, you could adopt a family or child in need and shop for them together. 

5. Treat Those Around You. Give your kids the chance to give to the people who mean the most to them. Perhaps they have a favorite teacher or neighbor to whom they would like to give a gift. It doesn’t have to be something fancy—your child could help you bake something, or they could draw a greeting card. Even the smallest token of appreciation will mean a lot to both the giver and the recipient. We bet after one round of giving that your child will want to make even more gifts to hand out—it feels that good. 

6. Be An Example. Finally, you can’t expect your children to become givers if you aren’t one yourself. You should model the behaviors that you want your little ones to replicate. So, don’t be shy about your volunteer pursuits or gift-giving this holiday season. Highlight how good you feel and, soon enough, your kids will realize they can reap the same benefits by being generous. 

Don’t stop as soon as the holidays conclude, either. You can’t expect kids to know how to turn on and off their giving spirit. Instead, inspire your kids to give back year-round, even when those around them don’t expect it. The smallest acts of kindness can have an indelible impact on the recipient. Your kids will only learn this by doing, and they’ll only start if you’re the example. 

So, make this holiday about more than just the presents under the tree. Show your family that it’s all about giving—and give them the tools they need to partake in the most feel-good activity of all. 

Jennifer Landis is a mom, wife, freelance writer, and blogger. She enjoys long naps on the couch, sneaking spoonfuls of peanut butter when her kid's not looking, and binge watching Doctor Who while her kid's asleep.  She really does like her kid, though, she promises. Find her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.

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