I saw The Four Gift Rule on Pinterest the other day and I thought it was a great rule of thumb to aspire to as a way to simplify gift giving to our children. It is so easy to get lost in the excitement of receiving gifts and forget about why we give gifts at this time of year.
We participated in a few local charity events this fall.
I love watching my three year old learn the joy of giving and how wonderful it can be to give a gift knowing how happy that gift makes another person.
Below are some pointers found at Great Schools to help teach children to give from an early age.
Start small when the kids are small
Your young child might be happy to help bake cookies for a friend but end up wanting to keep the gift herself. Plan for this by baking enough cookies to keep and enough cookies to give. Young children need help in learning to share.
Teach your child that he doesn't need money to give
Help your child make gift certificates good for "one free car wash" or "breakfast in bed" that he can give to others in the family.
Involve your child in selecting the gift
You may think that donating to cancer research is important, but your child who is an animal lover may be more interested in making sure the dogs at the humane society have an extra treat at the holidays. Help her find a way to give the gift she feels is important.
Be a role model
Volunteer your family's time at a soup kitchen or senior center. Gather small-size toiletries, such as toothpaste and shampoo, and pack them in decorated gift bags to take to a homeless shelter. Ask your child if he'll help you baby-sit for a neighbor's toddler so she can do her shopping or help you rake the leaves for an elderly friend.
It's faster for busy parents to write a check to a charity, but it has little impact on a child who can't see where the money is going or imagine the people who benefit. Delivering canned goods to a food bank is more meaningful than dropping a check in the mail. Your family could "adopt" a needy family through a community organization, choose the gifts and wrap them.
If you have any ideas about teaching children the joy of giving or have a family tradition around giving, please share!