Teaching the art of giving this holiday season

December 31, 2010

One of my best purchases this season was a big box of puffy alphabet stickers and another of puffy holiday stickers. Luke and Emma LOVED making cards with these. While, at first, they needed me to suggest to make cards for Nana and Grandma, soon Luke and Emma were taking the initiative. How proud I was when Luke announced that he wanted to make a Christmas card for the older couple who lived next door!

So, how do you help a child "give well"? First, you should consider what that entails.

Giving well involves choosing a gift that is in accordance with the needs and tastes of the person receiving the gift. Giving well involves some sacrifice from the giver, whether it is money, time or mental energy. Giving well also means that the pleasure we bring to a person should be more important than the gratitude they express.

For Luke and Emma, their sacrifice was the time it took to create the cards. It was not much of a sacrifice, since they enjoyed the process. But often, they wanted to drop the card making and move onto another activity. That's when I explained how they needed to finish their project since it would make the person getting the card so happy.

Another way to teach gift giving is to take children along while you shop. Try to get your children to help pick out a gift that the receiver will like. It can be difficult with preschoolers. I had to explain to Luke that, no, Nana would NOT like an Ironman toy!

Helping wrap the presents is another way young ones can participate. It's a fun way to show that the warm, happy feeling you get on Christmas morning can come from seeing how happy your gift can make someone else. When children see that they are able to make others happy, that can build their self-esteem as well as selflessness. And that can be the best gift of all.

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