“If you always give, you will always have.” – Unknown (Chinese proverb)
The holiday season is upon us, but this year Summit Academy is encouraging the most rewarding present to share with children – the spirit of giving. Whether it’s a simple five-minute gesture or five hours spent volunteering, giving back at the holidays can help strengthen a family, build a better world, and teach children the value of compassion, kindness, and community responsibility. Here are seven tips to instill the spirit of giving back for the holidays in your child at home.
Talk about giving.
According to a 2013 study by the United Nations Foundation conducted by the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University, children whose parents talk to them about giving back were 20% more likely to give to charity than parents who did not discuss giving with their children (proving true for children in families at all income levels and across gender, race, and age groups). This can be done in simple ways such as having family conversations at the dinner table about what everyone is thankful for and how they may be able to help those less fortunate.
Make giving a family tradition.
Instilling giving into your family’s routine will help your child realize the importance of it and make it easier for them to practice it regularly. Take time to volunteer together with an organization everyone feels connected to. Or offer to assist a neighbor in need by doing chores or inviting them over for a simple dinner. This will help your child realize that what they value may be missing in the lives of others.
Get inspired by the holidays.
The holiday season is about goodwill toward each other, making it the perfect time to teach your children the importance of being charitable. Have everyone set aside one of their gifts to give to someone less fortunate at the holidays. Or talk about beginning the new year with a family giving box where everyone can regularly add a small amount of money to the box to contribute to a group or cause the family agrees to support. This will help take away the “me, me, me” attitude often developed by children at the holidays.
Looking to get your younger child in the spirit of giving? Sometimes the simplest gesture can make the biggest impact. Spend the afternoon with them baking cookies to give out to the neighborhood or make a donation to a local charity but let them deliver the money/goods personally. Young children need help in learning to share and often the best example is to lead by doing.
Yes, it’s faster to simply write a check to a charity, but it has little impact on a child who can’t see where the money is going or imagine the people who benefit. Take the time to personify giving with your child. Deliver goods to a shelter or volunteer your family’s time at a senior center. Seeing these gestures in action will leave a lasting impact.
Invest in interests.
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 for the holidays. Getting children invested in giving means finding a way to make it important to them through their personal interests. This will also help them broaden their giving horizons as they grow older.
Set the example.
The values our children embrace as they get older aren’t those we nag them into learning, but the ones they see us living out. There are countless opportunities every day for us to model the act of giving. And when children see us expressing this all the time, they’ll be more inclined to do so as well. And be patient. Children can’t be coaxed into this, but your gentle efforts and examples will instill giving as a way of life.
Sources: CNN, GreatSchools.org