Teaching Children to Be Generous and Givers

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December is one of the best times of the year. As you can easily guess, the main reason is the holiday season.

December encompasses several important holidays, including the Christian and Jewish celebrations of Christmas and Hanukkah. It also includes Kwanzaa which is a week long modern African-American and pan-African celebration of family, community and culture. In our house, we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas because my husband is Jewish and I am Catholic. We all enjoy the holidays and the time that we spend together.

The Holiday season is a wonderful time, particularly for our two boys who get presents, too many presents! Our kids receive presents from us, their grand parents and other relatives. So, when you do the numbers, our kids end getting many, too many presents!

Although as parents we all want big smiles on our kids during the holiday season, we also don't want to feel that we are spoiling them. We also don't want to go broke after the holidays. Don't get me wrong, like most parents, we're looking forward to seeing our children's excited faces as they tear into that special item they've been longing for. The problem is that when children get too many presents, they often stop enjoying playing with them and focus more on opening presents. 

I may appear a little bit old fashion or too traditional, but I  would sincerely prefer to see my kids forget a little bit about the presents, and focus more on the real meaning behind both Hanukkah and Christmas. 

Tips to Teach Children About Generosity and Values

My husband and I always take the time to explain our kids the stories behind both Hanukkah and Christmas. We also remind them that this time of the year gives us an excellent opportunity to be generous and appreciative of what we have in our lives. But, are there other things that we can do?

I did a little online search to find simple ideas or ways to teach children to be generous and focus less on the presents during the Holiday season. Here is what I found. 

Family Traditions: If you think your kids are too focused on gifts, Beverly Cathcart-Ross, a certified parent educator and founder of The Parenting Network suggests you emphasize the family traditions around the holiday season. It's important to establish family values around the holidays early in your children's lives, "because it's harder to go back." Before your holiday dinner, hold hands and have each person tell something for which they are thankful. 

Be a Model of Generosity: If you want your children to have the true holiday spirit, you need to display a good example of that spirit yourself. Model the spirit of generosity and giving that you would like to see in your children. If we want children to view the holidays as a time of giving and loving, then we must demonstrate giving and loving behavior in ways that they can recognize and understand.

Teach Children to be Generous and Givers: In the season of overconsumption, as the Holiday season is often called, it is essential that children learn to give back. Here are some ways to achieve this:

 - Ask children to help you select extra groceries to place in food boxes for the needy at food stores.

- Help your child chose a charity or cause that he/she is interested in and then get them involved. 

- Donate a turkey to a homeless shelter.

Visit a nursing home to sing carols.

Ask your children to help you wrap presents for those outside the family, so that they can learn that you believe in giving to others.

Invite people who are away from their families to share your holiday meal and traditions.

Encourage your children to call Grandma and Grandpa -- just to say, "I love you."

Adopt someone into your family who doesn't have any family.

Make sure your children send out thank you cards for gifts, parties, long-distance calls, and any small kindness.

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