Dr. Ernest Levister
Sharing the experience of giving can be the most rewarding present you give your child this holiday season.
My earliest memory of giving something back to the community is of when, I was 5 years old when I would go with my mom to retirement homes and sing to the elderly. I began looking forward to it because I started associating giving and charity with having fun, and as I grew older, I became more and more passionate towards it.
It can be tough to teach children the value of giving in a season when they’re surrounded by messages about the value of getting. Here are five ways to start:
Start small when the kids are small.
Your young child might be happy to help bake cookies for a friend but end up wanting to keep the gift herself. Plan for this by baking enough cookies to keep and enough cookies to give. Young children need help in learning to share.
Teach your child that he doesn’t need money to give.
Help your child make gift certificates good for “one free car wash” or “breakfast in bed” that he can give to others in the family.
Involve your child in selecting the gift.
You may think that donating to cancer research is important, but your child who is an animal lover may be more interested in making sure the dogs at the humane society have an extra treat at the holidays. Help her find a way to give the gift she feels is important.
Be a role model.
Volunteer your family’s time at a soup kitchen or senior center. Gather small-size toiletries, such as toothpaste and shampoo, and pack them in decorated gift bags to take to a homeless shelter. Ask your child if he’ll help you baby-sit for a neighbor’s toddler so she can do her shopping or help you rake the leaves for an elderly friend.
Have a family conversation about what you’re thankful for. That will help your child realize that what she/he values may be missing in other people’s lives