I don't know about you, but I look forward to the holidays for a lot of different reasons (I stress out about them for a lot of different reasons, too—I'll fill you in on that later). I love having an excuse to see friends or family I rarely see, justifiable reasons to travel, shop and, of course, overeat.
There's another positive side to the season as well. It's an opportunity to give back to our communities and start building a foundation for our children to join in. Art Taylor, CEO of the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, says, "As a parent, you have an obligation to use special occasions to instill the importance of giving in your children, and then support them in those projects."
But it's not a lesson that only resonates at the holidays. It's one you can instill year round by showing your kids how even little contributions can make a difference. By doing so, we help more than the world. We help our own offspring. Charitable involvement has been shown to help raise self-esteem, develop social skills, foster an introduction to the greater world and encourage kids to appreciate their own lifestyle.
So how do you start them on the right path? For optimum results, you have to present it in a way that is fun, relevant and engaging.
You're not going to get very far if you try to strip them of their hard-earned pennies right off the bat. A more realistic approach is to show them that the little things they already do are acts of giving. Smiling at someone on the street, sending a card to a friend and keeping a lonely relative company are all ways that they can help others. Another tip is to go through a simple closet cleanup. Helping your child gather a bag of clothes or toys they've outgrown for charity not only serves multiple purposes, but it's an easy way to give back. And because kids grow so darn fast, it can be repeated several times throughout the year.
Most children are probably familiar with these things—they've done them many times in the past—but with your guidance, they can look at them in a new light. They'll be happy to learn that they are helping out, and you'll probably uncover an urge in them to do it more often.