Find That Holiday Spirit by Showing Your Kids How to Give

 

You've heard it a hundred times already this season, but the 2020 holidays are a lot different for many of us, either in how we gather or with whom we gather.  As the excitement of seeing family and spending time with people we love is likely dampened, finding the holiday spirit that usually seems to come so naturally, may be a little harder this year.

We’ve found over the years that the best way to find joy is to bring joy to others.  So with that in mind, we’ve organized The 12 Days of Christmas Kindness.  On these days, our families will be joining together every day to spread the joy around our neighborhoods and in our communities.  We've chosen simple ways to spread cheer that our children can easily do with us.

That being said, we all have kids.  We know that teaching children about generosity and giving is HARD.  Sharing is a difficult enough concept at a young age, but completely giving away fun toys or yummy food and candy can be hard for their little hearts to NOT be sad about. Some young children may give generously without hesitation, but for most kids, and even adults, giving is a learned and practiced habit. 

Lest you think I have it all together on this, I want to state very clearly that I am NO expert on this topic, and my children are NOT perfectly generous. 

Yet. 

I still have hope they will be with time and practice. 

I hope that you will find these tips helpful when you talk to and teach your kids about giving over the next 12 days and throughout the year.

1) Model generous behavior for them.  “Look, Mommy is picking out this food for a friend.  What food would YOU like to give?”
2) Lavish praise on them when they do give—whether it be reluctantly or with gusto--and help them recognize that good feeling they get when they share/give/etc. 
3) Break them in easy to giving.  When giving around Christmas or birthdays, remind them that they will have gifts coming soon, too.  Older kids may understand the good feeling that comes from giving more easily, but toddlers developmentally likely will not be able to wrap their brain around it.  It’s okay to remind them of good things to come or even compromise with them. “We can choose a small treat for you, and a small treat for our friend. What would you like to find for our friend?”
4)  Help your children understand that not all people live the same way they do. Use developmentally appropriate language to explain to your child how another child might have different things or less things than they do.
At the end of they day, if your child completely refuses to participate or it makes them too sad to pay it forward with you, refer to #1.  You are MODELING behavior to them and talking about giving.  Respect that they may not be ready yet.  Whether they choose to participate or not, you are planting seeds that will eventually take root so that they grow into happy, generous givers. 

Finally, remember that paying it forward does not have to be extravagant or expensive to be meaningful.  Christmas time is a wonderful time to start teaching your children about giving, but continue to model generosity throughout the year.  In order to raise generous children, we must be willing to be generous ourselves. 

So join us this week on our Instagram page and follow along as we spend our time leading up to Christmas finding joy by giving joy.  We've started, but it's not too late to be a part of the festivities. Post the ways you're joining in and tag us @simplytoofers.  We can't wait to see how you spread the holiday spirit!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Mamas!