2020 has been a very wild year for many people. Our patience has been put to the test. It’s also been an opportunity to make sure we are educating our children on the magic of giving. There is one thing all of us can do in this time of uncertainty, and that is making sure our family members, neighbors, friends, strangers, or others that are in need, also feel taken care of by the community.
How do we introduce the topic of giving to our children in a time when they feel like they don’t have a lot that’s being given to them and their worlds have also been turned upside down? There are five ways to successfully introduce and implement giving to your children so that they can continue the magic of giving.
1. Teach the concept of giving. Create an environment that embraces giving. Where in your life are you giving personally? Make a shortlist of the things that you gave in the last week. Was it only of your time tending to children or was it food to the homeless, money to a charity, giving a helping hand, etc? This tangible list will be helpful to have in your mind when sitting down with your children to talk about the concept of giving.
Giving shouldn’t be seen as a loss of something in the eyes of your children. Can you recall a time when a little kid that is still in the nonverbal stage in their life offer whatever they have in their hand to us? Oh, here’s the apple I’m eating why don’t I give it to you. Then the toddler stage comes and “mine” becomes the new favorite word. Giving away things that are theirs becomes more of a challenge.
Share examples of people less fortunate in their current life or in concept and how happy it would make them feel if they had the toy that you no longer play with or the clothes that no longer fit.
2. Kids are always watching. Children are big observers. It’s extremely important that what we are saying is also consistent with what we do. We have so many things we do together, especially when we have all been in close proximity. A new and fun family activity can be sorting through clothes and toys together. Put a timer on and try and go as fast as you can. You want to try and have your kids not overthink their loving act. You can also set up some rules that if they are sorting and having a challenge with something that no longer fits but they don’t want to give it away, for example, there can be a final review pile as well. Once the timed exercise is done you can go back to the final review pile and have more of a discussion about the benefits of giving to those that are less fortunate.
3. Get into a routine of giving. A family that lives together gives together. Routines are things that help children predict what is coming and how to respond appropriately. Set up a quarterly reminder on your calendar for a family review and giving day or night where everyone can go through their belongings to give to someone else in need.
4. Make giving a priority. We can’t learn a new language unless we make it a priority and focus. This language of giving can expand in all areas of their life. Take time to review during a meal or just before bed where they gave during their day or someone gave them something and how they felt when they received or gave something to someone. It could be as small as sharing a snack, giving a compliment, or doing an extra chore without being asked.
5. Make giving your family mission. Create a “vision board” that highlights that all of the members of your family are givers. Challenge yourself to make it a focus for the rest of 2020 and beyond and see the other giving and loving people that come into your life. You can have them draw pictures of things they are willing to give and words that they think of when they think of giving.
There is something truly magical that happens in all of our hearts when we start to turn our focus outward and towards other people. We may be limited in the things that we can do right now but we can challenge ourselves and our children to be limitless in our decision to give. Let’s give it a whirl!