Teaching Kids the Joy of Giving

My daughter's birthday was last week (and thanks for all the notes that everyone sent via comments and Twitter). As much as I love the fact that my daughter is growing older and becoming her own person, I was quite bothered by a lot of the things that I heard her saying. For the most part, everything she said started with "I want," or "Can I have...?"

It seems my daughter has gotten a case of the gimme gimme's. And I'm determined to nip it in the bud.

I am a giver. Before I go on, let me say that I'm not telling you this to brag or to show you how wonderful I am. Sometimes I give too much and it gets me into trouble. But I am constantly on the lookout for ways that I can bless other people. I have been so blessed in life and I have more than I could ever really need and I've been taught from a young age to give to others and to try and not focus on myself all the time. Ever since I've really started this self-improvement journey (which really started about 7 years ago and has been chronicled in this blog for nearly 2 years), those lessons have been coming back to me again and again.

So now I'm taking on the job of passing those lessons on to my daughter. Here is my plan:

  1. Talk about giving, not getting. I have been having chats with all the aunts and uncles, babysitters, friends, and other adults that we regularly see about the upcoming holidays and my daughter. I've asked all of them to not ask her what she's getting for Christmas. I've asked them instead to ask her what she is going to get for her family members, classmates, etc.
  2. Give away some of what you have. This week's organizational project in my house is to go through the kids' overwhelming mountain of toys we call toy boxes and give at least half of them away to local charities, organizations, and Goodwill. The kids will go through the toys with me and they will go with to the donation station. I will admit, my daughter is a bit nervous on this one.
  3. Take Action. There are lots of ways to help others, especially this year with the economy being down and people everywhere struggling. I plan on getting some of my friends and family together to adopt-a-family. This is where you commit to helping a family in need and the local organization that is sponsoring the event delivers toys, food, and clothing to the families. Today, lots of people definitely need the help.
  4. Keep looking for opportunities. There will be countless other ways I can teach this life lesson to my kids as the holidays come upon us. By being on the lookout for these, I'm less likely to miss them when they present themselves.

So now I'm curious. Are you teaching your kids the joy of giving? How? Any lessons from the past you want to share with the rest of us? Tell us your story.

Photo Credit: MommyAGoGo.ca