How We're Teaching Our Children to Think of Others!
Giving back, volunteering, making donations and/or thinking of others is not limited to the holiday season, however, we tend to get inspired to do it better this time of year. With young kids, I've been especially thinking about how we can teach them to think about others and how they can give back in their own way, or as a family. I wanted to share a few ideas - some of these my own goals and some simple things we have been doing:
1. For the last fews years, it's been as simple as getting them involved in making special treats and/or gifts for their teachers at school. Sure, I buy a gift card or gift for them as thanks, but doing something hands on with the kids helps them truely understand what this season is about - not just receiving gifts, and not always just checking a box off the list when getting something for someone else, but putting thought and effort into it! And most importantly, getting excited to give them something they worked hard on!
This year, we make chocolate covered grahm crackers and pretzles, per the kids choice and they did most of the work! They even picked out the holiday containers, signed their names to the cards and packaged the cooled goodies into the tupperwares. Then, they hand delivered them to school. They were proud and excited to give the gift.
2. Every year, our kids' school has a holiday party, and we each bring a gift to be donated to a kid in need. There are so man organizations out there that do an espcially good job this time of year of organizing gift collections for families in need. So, we take the kids with us to pick out gifts and then they deliver it at the party to the donation bag.
3. Children's Mercy also has some ideas on how you can give back/volunteer with your whole family. One idea I love, is purchasing one of their Children Mercy ceramic piggy banks to "donate" to throughout the year. I love this because kids can see you donating to it, and they can participate, too. Plus, you don't have to do a lot at once... small steps towards filling it up makes a huge difference! Once it's filled up, take them with you to drop it off - you can find a location here!
You can also host a birthday party to benefit Children's Mercy. Instead of guests bringing gifts, they can donate or select gifts from the Gift Gallery to give to Children's Mercy instead. Your child can see all the gifts he/she helped bring to those in need.
4. Volunterring together as a family is something I'm starting to look into now that my kids are closer to the age they can help/do things and make a difference. I like the tips that are on page 3 of this Children's Mercy eNewsletter. Start with small amounts of time, centered around current interests or activities the child can do to keep it fun for them. One idea I have come this spring is to volunteer at a local pet shelter since we don't have a pet of our own. I think they'd love that! :)
5. Sometimes it's as easy as starting with their own sibling (their archrival ;). It has been exciting to see my kids think about other people besides themselves, like around birthdays, and holidays for starters, by shopping for or making something for the other one.
This year, Nora was SO excited to pick out a gift (a Captain America tree ornament) for Liam, that she kept trying to tell him about it the entire day. I kept having to pick her up and carry her away - trying to explain to her what a suprise was! I'm hoping now she has just forgotten about it. ;)
And Laim didn't even have to be asked to pick out something for Nora. He was with my husband/his dad at a grocery story, and saw a Frozen ornament. He pointed out that he thought Nora would love that and wanted to get it for her. They have both been particularlly obessed with tree ornaments this year!
6. And maybe the one that benefits everyone - have your kids pick out a few of their own toys that they don't play with anymore or maybe have outgrown. Donate those toys (in good condition) to area organizations in need! This is a win-win, espeically around holidays and birthdays when there are many new incoming toys!
Do you have any tips/tricks on how you've gotten your young kids involved in volunteering and giving back? I'd love to know so I can get my kids started on the right path! :)