Gifts That Count: Teaching Children the Power of Thoughtful Gift-Giving
Thoughtfulness, generosity, and altruism are admirable qualities that many parents wish for their children to have. And as the season of gift-giving approaches, they take on the tricky task of teaching their kiddos the importance of meaningful gifts and kindness. Fortunately, these positive characteristics are teachable. Read on to learn the best ways to encourage and instill charitable giving in your little ones while embracing the true spirit of the holidays.
Can Generosity Be Taught?
Yes! Many studies conclude that generosity, altruism, and selflessness can be nurtured in little ones. In fact, it can have profound and lasting effects on their development. According to a study conducted by the University of British Columbia, children as young as two years old show a natural inclination toward sharing and helping others. By fostering these tendencies, parents can contribute to the development of empathetic and compassionate individuals.
While it’s pretty easy to see how generosity and charitable giving positively impact the recipient, research also shows that there’s something in it for the giver, too. These benefits include increased happiness levels, improved self-esteem, reduced stress levels, and even improvements in concentration, memory, and sleep.
Tips for Raising Generous Children
OK, generosity can be taught… but how? There are plenty of big and little things you can do to raise thoughtful, altruistic kiddos and teach them how to give meaningful gifts.
Walk the walk.
When it comes to teaching children about giving, the most powerful thing you can do is set an example. According to one 2017 study on learned generosity, children found to be generous had this trait modeled to them by their parents. Children who were considered less giving increased their sharing behaviors when they saw a parent or adult share.
In short, your kiddos are always watching. So model the generosity and compassion you wish for them to emulate. Whether you regularly help out neighbors, make donations to the food bank, or roll up your sleeves for volunteer work, remember that your own behavior is influential.
Seek out teachable moments.
Everyday situations provide excellent opportunities for teaching generosity. Whether it’s sharing toys with siblings, helping with household chores, or comforting a friend, these teachable moments allow parents to reinforce the values of kindness and empathy. Embrace books that share messages of giving and selflessness, and keep your eyes open for ways that you and your children can do something kind for someone else.
Talk about the importance of giving.
Be explicit about why it is so important to give back to others. Help them learn to perspective-take and practice gratitude by sharing stories of others who have less. Help your children see how their actions can impact others for the better and create a ripple effect.
Tips for Teaching Children How to Give Meaningful Gifts
Praise acts of giving and generosity.
It’s no secret that kiddos respond well to positive reinforcement. When you see your child displaying generous, thoughtful behaviors, praise them for it! Let them know that you acknowledge and appreciate when they think of others. Doing so will reinforce these behaviors.
Get children involved in the gift-giving process.
It’s often easier to simply sign their names on a card, but getting your kids involved in the gift-giving process is an amazing way to help them understand thoughtful gift-giving. Get their input on thoughtful gifts and let them contribute in their own special ways. Kids giving gifts may be a bit more of an interesting process, but it will also make for a more meaningful and personal gift.
Define budgets for gifts.
It can be easy for young kids to fall into the trap of thinking bigger and more expensive means better in terms of gifts. One way you can help them understand the idea of meaningful gifts for kids is by setting a strict budget for all Christmas gifts. This encourages them to think more creatively about what the recipient may truly appreciate from the gift giver.
Embrace your child’s unique skills and strengths.
Help your child recognize what they’re good at and what they enjoy doing. Then, brainstorm ways to transform those strengths into gift ideas! For example, a child who loves art may enjoy making homemade cards or gifts for their loved ones. The things that make your children unique are also the things they can contribute to the world.
Give Meaningful Gifts This Holiday Season
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