Petersburg Pilot -

 
 

Creating charitable family traditions

 


They say it's better to give than to receive. But try explaining that concept to your child during the holiday, and they’re likely to look at you as if they just found coal in their stocking.

Nonetheless, teaching children about charitable acts will give them a valuable appreciation of showing kindness and compassion toward others. You can begin by establishing charitable family traditions during the holidays.

START GIVING

Introduce your children to the concept of giving — while also making room for the new toys and clothes they’ll receive during the holidays — by working with them to organize their room.

Although children can quickly outgrow their favorite clothes and toys, they often still hold an emotional attachment to these items. Forcing them to give away their stuff may create a negative reaction.

Instead, start the process by simply telling the child that you’re going to help them make room for all of the new things Santa is bringing. As you work together, talk to them about how much great stuff they have, while also telling them that there are many children whose families can’t give them such nice stuff.

Then, as you identify items that the child hasn’t used in a while, ask them how they’d feel about giving the item to someone who is less fortunate. As they agree, place those items in a box. You may be pleasantly surprised how quickly the child begins placing items in the box without being prompted.

LOVING SUPPORT

Teaching children that giving means more than just offering gifts and items to others is also important.

Start a family tradition of visiting local nursing homes, spreading holiday cheer by caroling, helping to serve meals or just visiting with residents. Be sure to check with the facility’s administrators first.

Have children help as you create goody bags filled with travel-sized items such as soaps, shampoo, toothbrushes and toothpaste, which can be given to nursing homes or homeless shelters.

Also, sit down with your children and identify family members, friends and neighbors who may have circumstances that will make the holidays difficult this year. Teens can assist elderly relatives who may need help getting to the store and shopping.

Young children can help as you buy extra grocery items to anonymously drop off to a neighbor who has recently lost their job. Or, if you have a family friend who isn’t able to visit their own family, ask your children to create a holiday card, inviting them to your Christmas dinner.

Charitable traditions are a great way to establish a sense of community, benevolence and altruism within your children. These simple gestures, and many others, can help your children to learn the intangible value of giving during the holidays, which will carry throughout the year as well.

 

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