Oh my goodness it’s almost Christmas! Kids are giddy with excitement as they open little doors on advent calendars, find their Elf on a Shelf or take part in other family traditions. But let’s face it, it’s the PRESENTS that kids love most and it can be a lot of “gimme gimme” at this time of year. What we need to do as parents is consciously provide opportunities to give in order to counter the “me me me” mindset that we sometimes see at this time of year.
Here are 7 tried and tested ideas to shift the focus to giving this Christmas:
Involve your child when deciding what to give family members.
Encourage their ideas and contributions on what they might like to give the relatives. Try and incorporate their ideas into the gift. No present is too small or insignificant if it comes from the heart. A drawing or a special stone found in the backyard may be all they have to give. Or older kids might like to put some of their pocket money towards buying a little something for loved ones.
Allow your children to gift wrap their presents.
Kids generally love to be let loose with the sticky tape and wrapping paper! You may have to give a little guidance (and sometimes a lot…) but RESIST the urge to fix their wrapping. Deep breaths might be needed here. If it’s good enough, it’s good enough! Perfect is not the goal. Kids having ownership of the giving process and feeling fulfilled by giving to others is what’s on offer here.
Toy clean out
Have your child fill a tub with toys that are no longer in use to donate to charity. If you can, give your child some options of where the toys could be donated. It might be a local charity shop like the Salvos or Vinnies, or there might be another local cause. Together you can look up the organisation’s website and learn how donated items are used to help community members.
Purchase a gift to donate
One option is to donate through the Kmart Wishing Tree Appeal (just visit a local store, choose a tag from the Wishing Tree and place your gift with tag under the tree). Alternatively, you are likely to have a charity near you that accepts new items to hand out to disadvantaged families.
For example, there is a Salvation Army Community Support Services Centre close to my home that my children and I visited at the beginning of the year. We saw a room of new donated toys for parents in need of support to visit so they could choose a present for their child. We also saw donated food items set up like a small grocery store so families can come and select what they need.
By doing this, the concept of giving became a lot more concrete and my kids had a greater understanding of where things go when they are donated and the benefit it has on the community.
Who doesn’t love the thrill of giving surprise gifts? Some suggestions:
Model the behaviour you want your children to practice
Demonstrate a genuine concern for others by taking action. What does your child see you do? Do you donate coins to the highway collectors or do you wind up your window and avoid eye contact? Do you buy raffle tickets and think about where the money is going or do you just focus on what you could win? Your behaviour will pave the way for your child to follow.
Express your own joy at giving!
Communicate how it makes you feel when you give to others. Express the joy you feel when you give, and ask your child how it makes them feel when they give. Your child is likely to mimic your passion!