In the mall earlier this week I saw a young boy with someone I assume was his father. The boy was carrying a white envelope with the words “Christmas Money” carefully written across the front. He had a sparkle in his eye and was chatting easily with his father, as I followed behind him I heard him say, “I know I have enough money, but do you think mom will like it or LOVE it.” He earnestly sought his dad’s face for the answer. This boy has been on my mind all week long. What a great example of a young child learning the joy of giving. St. Francis of Assai said “For it is in giving that we receive.”, and as we head into this Christmas season it is important not only that we celebrate Christ and His birth, but that we foster in our children the joy that comes from giving. Use these tips to help show your children just how fun giving can be.
1. Start Young: Don’t wait for your children to make their own money to buy their own presents, start now! Help them save money all year long from allowances or birthdays to buy token gifts for their family or close friends. Even better, get creative as a family and make ornaments or other gifts and talk about who you will gift them to. Make it fun and something your kids will remember.
2. Change your Focus: Too often we can get caught up in the list making and “getting” of Christmas. This year intentionally set out to make it a year of giving instead of getting. This doesn’t mean you can’t buy your children gifts; just remember that our children are inundated at this time of year with commercials and magazine ads all with the newest toys or games that they want. It is tempting to spend time talking with your kids about all of it, instead shift the focus of the conversation to what they are giving. Talk regularly about who they want to give to and what they want to give. Get excited about it and they will too.
2. Model Thoughtful Giving: Are you hurrying out to buy gifts when the kids are asleep or ordering online? Of course there is nothing wrong with that, don’t forget your children are watching you. Try to involve them children in some of the process of your brainstorming, purchasing, wrapping etc. Show them how excited you are to come up with a gift you think someone will enjoy, talk about it frequently.
3. Give All Year: You do not have to stop giving just because Christmas is over, make it a point in your family to give all year, talk about the details over dinner or game night, let your children help in the decision making process. The more involved your children are in the giving process the more they will take ownership of it and feel the importance of giving.
4. Teach Them How To Receive: When opening gifts on Christmas teach your children how to say thank you, and not just the words. Talk over Christmas dinner about the people who chose their gifts, the thoughtfulness behind them and how it makes them feel to have received such a nice gift. Help them write thank you notes. In learning how to receive gifts in a thoughtful way, children develop a greater understanding for the process of giving creating a more giving spirit.