Teaching Kids to Give Back this Holiday Season
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The holiday season is an excellent time for teaching kids charity. They’re already observing how friends and family give each other gifts over the holidays, but they also need to be introduced to the joys of giving to the less fortunate and people they don’t know.
Watching your kids giving back to the community is one of the great joys of parenthood. Here’s how to cultivate a sense of philanthropy in your children.
Start at the Right Age
Very young kids won’t be able to grasp the concept of giving back, but you can start cultivating your child’s charitable urges as early as three or four years of age.
Teaching Kids Charity with Age-Appropriate Activities
Children need guidance when learning about charity, so it’s best if you make giving back a family affair. Choose age-appropriate activities that won’t frighten children. For example, while a visit to a nursing home to visit the “grandmas and grandpas” is a fun trip, spending time with terminal patients in a hospice will upset and scare most children.
What types of activities appeal to kids giving back for the first time? You might consider:
- Volunteering at animal shelters: young children can help socialize puppies and kittens by playing with them. Make sure the children understand what they’re doing helps the animals get adopted.
- Making decorations: kids can make seasonal crafts to decorate nursing homes or give to neighbors.
- Make care packages for military personnel: many members of the armed forces will spend the holidays away from family and friends. Children can help choose items for the care packages and include thank-you crafts and drawings. Many military bases and recruitment centers are happy to help you send a bit of home to local men and women on deployment.
- Take part in food drives: go grocery shopping with the kids and ask for their help choosing items to donate to your local food program.
- Bake cookies for emergency responders: children can help bake thank-you cookies and help deliver them to fire stations, emergency rooms and ambulance bays, and police stations.
Kids Giving Back to Kids
Participating in toy drives is one of the best ways of teaching kids charity. Kids many not fully appreciate how many people need food, shelter, and clothing, but they can imagine what it’s like not having toys to play with. Or encourage children to choose personalized stickers for their classmates. Giving Blast Off and Princess personalized stickers to others helps teach children the importance of giving without expecting anything in return.
If you’re donating to one of the big toy drives, consider giving personalized books like My Radio Flyer Adventure. Choose a common name so it’s easy for the charity organizers to match the book to an appropriately-named child.
Kids are smart. If they see adults only practicing charity during the holiday season, they’ll quickly assume no-one gives back the rest of the year. Lead by example to teach kids giving back is a year-round activity. Often, it’s the small acts of kindness that make the most impact when teaching kids charity, like
- Doing a secret good deed
- Helping clean local parks
- Shoveling snow for an elderly neighbor
- Sharing food with others
- Donating food to local food banks
- Donating clothes to thrift stores
- Holding doors open for strangers.
Many families choose a charity together and put spare change into a “charity jar.” Children are encouraged to add some of their allowance to the jar. When the jar’s full, the family counts how much money they’ve collected and donates it to the charity.
Make Giving Fun for Kids
Teaching kids charity is one of the great joys of parenting, but giving back shouldn’t be a chore or a sacrifice. Make charity a fun event, where the family comes together to do good and give back to the community. Giving back can be a source of family bonding, not just over the holidays, but at any time of year.
This holiday season, I See Me! Has paired up with Children’s Cancer Research Fund to help write letters of love to children in need. Create your own here with your family!