Updated: Dec 9, 2022
As parents, we spend most of our time involved in giving, don’t we? It’s part of the parenting contract, right? And to most of us it comes pretty naturally but at times we may find ourselves feeling somewhat empty because we are giving so much of ourselves nearly every minute of the day.
Our children, on the other hand, are mostly in the receiving mode, correct? Particularly at this time of year, they spend lots of time thinking and talking about what they want for Christmas or Hanukkah or other holiday. This is natural as well, being that we take them to sit on Santa’s lap and say, “Tell Santa what you want for Christmas!” It’s so exciting for them, and us of course, to see their anticipation for the surprises and gifts to come on Christmas morning.
May I suggest that we all spend some time this year teaching our children about the excitement they can feel while giving to others and providing acts of service to loved ones or people in their community? Why is it fulfilling to give to others? How does it actually benefit both parties involved in the exchange? There are studies that describe the many physical and mental health benefits associated with giving.
Our positive mindset is likely to be longer lasting when we give than when we receive. Can we help our children understand this? Can we set up scenarios where they get to experience the joy in their heart when they see the excitement or appreciation on someone’s face when they receive the gift or act of kindness your child initiated?
Let’s start talking to our kids about this now! We can certainly lead by example and find ways for our children to get involved in the practice of giving so that they see for themselves the positive result of this in their lives. Here are some ideas:
Write a letter of gratitude to anyone. Examples: a note to a parent or any caretaker thanking them for all they do, a note to a friend telling them how happy they are that they are friends, a thoughtful note to a sibling about something they did that was cool or helpful.
Donate or give a toy or book to a younger child
Offer to help a neighbor with a chore or pet care (age appropriate of course)
Spend some time with a grandparent helping them or just spending quality time
Older children can help in the community with soup kitchens, community events, volunteering their time to help contribute to a cause
There are so many ways to give! I’m sure you have thought of many more!
Just one act of giving per week adds up to 52 per year! Just imagine the good we can do and how amazing we will feel! I am personally going to commit to this in 2020 and since my children are adults, I will be passing this idea onto them as well! Funny, while I’m sitting here writing this, my 19-year old (youngest daughter) came up to tell me she can’t wait for Christmas morning because she is so excited to GIVE her boyfriend his gift! Wow!
Let’s also talk to them about the intentions behind these acts. It may seem a bit more natural to help a family member, although it does not minimize it in any way. But how awesome that if our kids have been taught the habit of giving within their own family environment, it will come easier and make more sense when it comes time to giving back to their community.
What is the intention behind gift giving, volunteering and acts of service? Why do it? We should be clear on this before getting our kids involved. How about, because it feels good?!
These acts remind and get us in touch with who we really are! We are all just human beings doing our best and how joyous is it when we can help each other out and exchange this positive energy?!
Another way to help your child explore their own intentions behind giving is to have them write about it. Many kids write in a journal or diary and this is something you can suggest they write about. Here are some prompts to get them thinking:
What is the best gift you’ve ever received?
What is the best gift you’ve ever given?
What are some things you could do to help someone?
What are some talents you have that you could share with others?
When we are in a giving mode, we feel a sense of purpose and satisfaction.
The cool thing is that giving actually creates a flow of positivity into our lives! The energy we create by giving opens our hearts and minds to receiving our true desires.
There are opportunities all around us, especially in the holiday season, to donate, volunteer or provide help to those in need. Let’s also try to activate the giving mode in ourselves and in our children throughout the whole year.
In my Jump Into Joy Workshop for young ladies, we dive deep into the topic of Service to Others, as well as many other positive mindset tools. I will be launching new dates in 2020! Stay tuned and please read our parent testimonials & video footage of our workshop at www.kidzoneshoretumbling.com/jump-into-joy-experience
Please call 609-756-4100 to inquire about dates for your own amazing workshop experience or to schedule a group such a Girl Scout Troop.