This time of year (and honestly ANY time of year) can be hard to stop the want-it-all, hoard-it-all, mine mentality that we all have. And since kids are just little humans without filters, teaching little ones that Christmas is not all about getting, keeping, and refusing to share can be pretty difficult. But we are diligently trying to teach our girls to be cheerful givers this holiday season (and every day). We have a few ways we are doing it while they are young (toddler, 2, and preschooler,3).
Simple Ways to Teach a Cheerful Giver
1. Get excited about giving
We have noticed that the amount of enthusiasm we, as parents, exhibit to our girls is a good determining factor in how the girls will respond. When we are jumping up and down about an opportunity to give to a great cause, they are going to be excited about it as well.
I truly get excited when I hear the sound of a ringing bell when I am close to a shopping mall or a store entrance. I know from childhood, that the ringing bell is not just the sound you hear when an angel gets its wings; it is the sound of a Salvation Army ringer standing in front of the iconic red kettle accepting donations for the needy. We waited all season to hear it and finally (2 days before Christmas) heard the bells. I was so excited I jumped up and down, told the girls about it and grabbed all the change I had been saving. They excitedly dropped all that change in as the gentleman ringer told them thank you and “God bless you!”
Growing up cheerful givers requires that we be cheerful givers in front of them.
2. Choose age-appropriate giving opportunities
One of the reasons we are so excited about giving at the red kettle for the Salvation Army is because our girls LOVE to drop change into a piggy bank. Since it is still exciting (and fine motor skill developing) for them to do this, it is exciting for them to give in this way. It is easy to be cheerful about giving when it is FUN! We also shop for kids that would not otherwise have a Christmas in the toy aisle, letting them pick out what they want a kid their age to have. It is always fun for them to shop for themselves, so it is just as exciting to shop for someone else.
3. Give a friendly greeting
Sometimes the way to brighten a person’s day is for a 2 year-old to say (really shout), “MERRY CHRISTMAS!” When we are in the act of giving cheerfully and generously, we heartily greet the person by saying an appropriate greeting. Modeling the cheerful heart by saying cheerful things to the people we are giving to shows the girls how to be cheerful givers. We don’t just give, but we give excitedly and with emotion. A “GOD BLESS YOU!” given from a 3 year-old is sometimes a present in its own right.
4. Plan your giving and then give generously
Because we knew we wanted to give this year to the Salvation Army with the girls, we saved up all our change throughout the month until we came across the kettle. We are on a cash budget around here, so we get a lot of change throughout the month. I kept tucking away all our change in my purse just waiting for the opportunity to give with the girls. When it came, they got to grab handfuls of change at a time and go back a couple of times each to the kettle. The opportunity to give came and we had an abundance of coins for the girls to put in the kettle. Though they cannot know the exact amount we gave since they can’t count yet; they can feel the magnitude of the giving by how much they got to drop in the kettle.
5. Have lots of conversations about why we give
Oftentimes, our conversations about giving have to do with others not having what we have. Wanting to meet needs and help others is the reason we drop our money in a red kettle, or give $5 each Sunday to buy a Bible for someone who doesn’t have one. We keep the concepts around giving very simple with our girls. They go something like this; 1. God has given us SO MUCH! 2. Some people don’t have (insert item that we already have) 3. Wouldn’t it be great to give that to them? Again enthusiasm helps in this process and I think things start to sink in with repetition.
Do you have little ones you are trying to teach to be cheerful givers? What do you to encourage them? Do you get excited like I do when you hear a bell-ringer and see a red kettle? This year the Salvation Army wants to hear what inspires you to drop your extra change in their red kettles. Please click over to their website to share your #RedKettleReason.
“I participated in a campaign on behalf of Influence Central for The Salvation Army. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.”
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It was wonderful to see the girls giving. They may not “get it” right now but are on the path to sharing our blessings. It is a wonderful tradition and I am blessed to have been able to share this with you all.