Be Moved By Teaching Children About Giving

cath-rainbow

“I won’t be made useless.
I won’t be idle with despair.
I will gather myself around my faith.
For light does the darkness most fear.” ~Hands by Jewel

Last year, my counseling practice was struggling due to the stormy economy. One way I cope with uncertainty is looking for abundance and sharing where I feel blessed. I want to stop focusing on the bumpy road, and look for the blessings that are right in front of me. 

It is easy to lose sight of our blessings. My daughter, who is a budding philanthropist, challenges me with her innocent, caring spirit. In a post I wrote last year about wanting to expand our family giving, I shared how she questioned our giving only during the holidays.

I was so moved by her challenging, caring spirit that I made regular giving into a New Year’s resolution. My goal was to find 12 activities that I could do with my children that shared what we have with others. 

It dawns on me that I’m not writing solely about teaching kids about giving, as much as they have taught and inspired me to reach beyond my comfort zone. Would you like to be moved to give beyond your comfort zone? Teach a child about giving, and it will move you.

5 Ways to Teach Children About Giving:

  1. Eliminate Commercial Advertisements: We use a DVR to record our favorite shows. We never have to watch commercials again. I find the less commercial advertisements my kids watch, the less toys they are enticed to want. Advertisers are great at marketing to children.
  2. Make a Give List: We typically focus on asking and getting children what they want for special occasions. So, this year, I decided to share the joy and responsibility of giving gifts with my children. Each child writes a list of who they want to give gifts too. They can make, buy, or give away their own treasures to those on their list.
  3. Create a Donation Jar: My oldest child earns money for doing chores. On her weekly pay day, she gives away some of her money to a organization/charity of her choosing. She simply places the dollars/coins in the jar that she wants to give away. From this jar, she has purchased toys for children who survived the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. And, now she is saving money in the jar to share with her school.
  4. Find Giving Activities To Do as a Family: Within a 12-month period, I found a giving activity that we could do as a family each month. We rang a bell for Salvation Army at Christmas time. We baked a cake for families visiting their children at a local hospital. We helped a family have food for Thanksgiving dinner, the homeless have coats in winter, and Joplin tornado survivors have flashlights for rebuilding. We ran races for local schools and scholarships. We picked up trash in our neighborhood on Earth Day and made cards for cops on Patriot Day. Once you start looking, the needs are endless. Focus more on who you are giving to than on what you are doing for them.
  5. Recognize the Difference Between Giving and Caretaking: My daughter tends to be a caretaker, like her mother. I think of caretaking as doing things for others that they can do for themselves. I gently remind her the difference between giving to others that can’t help themselves vs. helping those that can (but don’t) help themselves. I don’t want to raise a doormat or a bulldozer. Instead, I watch my daughter blossom into a caring, giver who thinks of others as much as she thinks of herself.

Discussion Question: How do you teach children about giving? Or, how have children moved you with their giving gestures?

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 Photo Credit: “Catching Rainbows” by Pink Sherbet Photography

7 responses to “Be Moved By Teaching Children About Giving

  1. I feel very moved after having read this. Such a shining example of ways we can guide youth to understand that they can make a difference in the world. I don’t have kids yet but these suggestions are helpful anyway! :)
    My mom, dad, sister and myself sponsor rescued farm animals as gifts for the holidays and birthdays. Then we get to visit the farm sanctuary together and meet our adorable farm animal friends!
    Thank you for inspiring,
    Tali

    • Tali, thank you for letting me know that the ideas moved you. It sounds like you have many of your own ideas to some day share with your children! I love the idea of rescuing farm animals and then visiting them at the farm. Is this a local or national organization? My daughter would love doing this.

      We have bought a bee hive/livestock for those in other countries, but I find with kids the more hands on the giving, the better. They get it when they can see and touch it.

  2. Hi Marci, that is amazing that your family bought a beehive to another family, so special and unique!
    The organization where we sponsor animals is called Farm Animal Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York. There is also one in Woodstock, NY and California too!
    Much love,
    Tali

  3. Hi Marci,
    Important piece here and lots of good lessons.
    When my kids were young and we’d pass a homeless person I’d bring my daughters in to the nearest coffee shop or kiosk and buy a little something to give to the person, ie. bagel, coffee, They’d hand it to the person. When we came out of a restaurant with our ‘doggie bags’ of take-home food, we’d give our left overs to the homeless person we passed on the street. In New York City, unfortunately every block has people in need.
    It’s those daily teachable moments that add up to a life of giving and compassion. The big things are good too, but I find it’s in the daily living that lessons of giving are taught.