The Christmas season is a great time of year to help children learn about the joys of giving and the importance of reaching out to others in their time of need. During the month of December children are excited and often focused on one thing: presents!
Their wish-lists are written, then they grow even longer as the month goes by! While it’s easy to place the blame on the immaturity of children for this laser-like focus, parents are presented with the opportunity at this time of year to teach children to enjoy giving – and to make giving not just a one-time-of-year event, but a way life.
The fictional character Gigi, God’s Little Princess, can relate to this dilemma perfectly. In the DVD Dreaming of a Pink Christmas, Gigi starts off the season with a huge wishlist of things pink and pretty, but soon realizes she hasn’t been thinking about giving gifts to other people she loves. Suddenly the whole season turns into a race to give and receive things—and that just doesn’t seem right either. Fortunately, her wise parents realize that Gigi needs a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas.
Below are a few ideas to help your children discover the joys of giving to others.
1. Involve your children in selecting gifts for friends or family members.
Many of you may have experienced the benefits of this idea. When your child is involved in choosing gifts for others, then she will enjoy the anticipation of giving the gift. Hint: You may not want to let your child be involved in “big secrets”… just in case.
2. Provide your children with opportunities to serve outside the home.
Serving others is a wonderful way to give. Check with your church for opportunities or contact the local food pantry. You can help build food baskets, serve at a homeless shelter, or volunteer at a local nursing home. You can also look for opportunities to serve neighbors through random acts of kindness (delivering cookies or shoveling snow), or help out an elderly person near you who might need help with Christmas decorations.
3. Participate in an Angel Tree or other giving opportunity for needy families through your local church or ministry.
Whatever your means, create a way for your child to give to others who are in need in a way that is meaningful to the child. For example, if your church is doing a coat drive, then purchase and give coats the same size your child wears. Involve your child in choosing the coat and let him wrap the box or carry it to the drop off destination.
4. Praise your children for giving.
Let them know how proud you are when they make a sacrifice, no matter how small it may seem.
5. Express your own joy in giving to others.
When our children see the joy we have when we give, they associate happiness with giving.
6. Read Bible verses about the joy in giving.
Not sure where to find Bible verses about giving? I’ve collected this list of Bible verses over on my personal blog.
7. Talk about how much God gave to us and why He gave – because He loves us so much!
For God so loved the world that He gave… John 3:16
What ways have you found in your family to foster a giving spirit in your own kids? Leave your comments below. We’d love to hear from you!