Pay it forward

gratitudeThis time of year is decidedly busy, with all the holiday preparations, shopping and social engagements.

In the midst of your full calendar though, there exists a rare, once-a-year, seasonal opportunity to teach your children about the value of money and material possessions. 

Rare juxtaposition

The holiday season is a time to dream about your wish list. How many people ask your kids what they want for Christmas this year? How much time do they spend poring over websites, flyers and catalogues to compile a comprehensive gift list? How many conversations have you had with other frantic parents, trying to seek out gift ideas for their own families, and reaching out to see what other bright ideas others have come up with?

There is the opportunity to place focus on “getting” against the idea of “giving”, and teach a valuable lesson about gratitude. It also provides context for the dollar value of what you’ve got vs. those that have not.  

Charity begins at home

With the wide reach of media, depending on your child’s age(s), they are likely aware to some extent of other people in need.  They’ve likely seen images of starving people in third world countries or victims of war-torn nations.

In addition to understand their own fortunate circumstance in that context, kids need to see as well that there are those in need, much closer to home. Possibly even other kids in their own schools.  It helps to make them accountable about literally “helping your neighbour”.

Have a family discussion about how you can help others far away and in your own community. Introducing the “close to home” element lets your child physically see and relate.

Get to work

Kids, when given the chance are innately helpful, and really value to opportunity to give back.

Encourage them, when making their gift lists, to come up with additional lists of ideas of ways in which they can help someone else who may not expect such a fruitful Holiday.

Help them have a bake sale, or offer to help them sort through some of their old toys and sports equipment that they might be able to sell to raise money for a charity of their choice. Organize to work at a soup kitchen or arrange to organize Christmas hampers for a family in need.

Random acts of kindness

Encourage your child to act with kindness, whenever they can. This may mean helping another child out at school or helping a neighbour shovel their walkway. Maybe your family would like to go visit some seniors who might be lonely over the holidays in a retirement home. Supporting those in need extends beyond the financial. It is about raising kids who are aware of their communities and its members, right from the start.