Thanksgiving has passed, which means you’re thinking about putting up a tree, buying presents or planning the next big holiday meal. It also means that volunteers will soon huddle outside stores in hopes that you’ll donate a little bit of money as you pass them by to do some grocery shopping, or you’ll get a knock on your door from a volunteer from the local children’s hospital asking for donations. As you drop some coins into the canister or pull out your check book, you’re helping someone in need and setting a good example for your young children, but this isn’t the only way to teach charity to impressionable minds. Consider this list when you need inspiration.
Take time to write thank-you notes
In the digital age, it seems like the written note is all but gone. However, this practice teaches your little ones some great lessons like taking time to personally connect with others, and it also teaches gratitude. Make time to remind your child what she has to be grateful for, and donating time to food banks or soup kitchens can further impress this lesson upon them.
Honesty is always the best policy
But it doesn’t always come easily, you need to teach children to make it a habit, and you can do this with simple practices. For instance, ask your child whether you’re lying when you stand up and say you’re sitting down, because these examples clearly illustrate lying and how confusing it is. If you’re struggling with explanations, “Franklin Fibs” is a book that shows the consequences of lying.
Holidays offer plenty of ways to teach children compassion, and food drives are especially common around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but your local pantry will accept donations at any time during the year. Make shopping for goods to donate a fun activity with your child, and let her pick out her favorite foods to share with someone in need. Starting a family holiday tradition to choose a charity to give to every year is always exciting for children to be involved in, so have a family meeting to discuss which of the many charities to choose from, and get everyone’s opinion.
Encourage working together
Of course there are loads of clichés that express strength in numbers, but sometimes visuals do an even better job. Have your child break a single toothpick, and then hand them a whole stack of toothpicks and ask them to try again to break the toothpicks. She will see that she is unable to break them when they’re all together, so discuss with her why it’s difficult to break them together, and how it’s applicable to everyday life and encourage her to put the lesson into play with siblings and at school.
Instilling generous behavior
Generosity is, perhaps, the most important lesson on this list. Every child seems to go through a stage where all he says it “mine” and you’ll want to nip the behavior in the bud, and what better way is there to do that than to show how giving something to someone brings happiness? Simple tasks such as making their sister’s bed just because she forgot, or doing a kind service for a friend or sibling they were having a fight with has a big impact. Teaching them that a listening ear or a hug goes a long way.
What lessons do you make sure to teach children?
This article was written on behalf of The Jason’s Hope Foundation, and for more information on Jason’s Hope, http://www.giveforward.com/jasonshope