Helping kids to want to give

Uncategorized Dec 15, 2020

It is unrealistic to expect our kids not to get excited about we might give them at this time of year, rather than what they might give us.   They are so often asked what they want or what they are getting, they are bombarded with advertisements showing them happy children receiving gifts and they are encouraged to write lists to ask for what they want. 

There are actually quite a few things you can do to help create a culture of giving.  It is good to start early with these things to really embed the right values.

  • Have them understand that giving a small gift is about the effort that is put into the gift. Encourage them to do a drawing, make a little book and decorate the cover, write a note of appreciation, bake some biscuits or put a photo in a frame to give to friends or relatives.
  • Hand made cards are always appreciated. You can make pretty cards as collages with bits of pretty wrapping paper and use glitter or spray paint leaves with gold paint. While you are making it, talk about the people they are for and how nice it is to do things for others.  Some children will be more willing to engage in this than others, we can't force them to be enthusiastic but we can encourage it by giving it our attention.
  • The younger the child, the more likely it is that you will have to supply the money to buy a present but if they do have some pocket money it is a really good idea to have them spend some of it on gifts. It is a great life lesson to have them actually part with the cash for someone else. Charity shops are good places to look as they won’t have to spend much there! 
  • Before you go in any shop, go over what the purpose is - 'we are going here to buy a present for Auntie Jill.  You might see things you like and want but whose present are we buying?'.  This really helps to avoid the nagging. 
  • It is good to get in the habit to talk a lot about the joy of giving. Talk to them about the pleasure you have had in the past from giving a present to someone who really appreciated it. Go into detail, how you enjoyed thinking about that person, you liked wrapping it up and writing the card and then how much you loved their reaction when the opened it.
  • If they do seem to persist with constant talk about what they want, or are resistant to giving, then don’t be critical or use shaming talk like ‘You are so spoilt’. It really is normal for children to be egocentric. You have a major influence over your children but it does take time and persistence on our part. So saying things like ‘I know how excited you get about getting presents.  All kids are like that and I do want you to also make grandma a card as she loves you so much and it will make her so happy. So how about I draw an outline of a flower and you can colour it in?’  Sometimes they just need a bit of help to get started.

Every interaction we have with our children, everything we put focus on and everything we model is shaping them for the future. It might not seem that way now, especially if they do  complain that they don't want to give presents and they just want to talk about what they want to get. However if we handle this with compassion and keep the child’s dignity intact – it gives them a really strong message.

“You are so excited about Christmas. So many people ask what you want and it might feel strange to you to think about giving to others.  I know you are really kind though and you do care about others. Why don't you take a moment to think and we can talk about it again"

Let me know if this is helpful. Send me an email [email protected]

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