Now having gotten past Christmas, I can look back to examine how we did as far as our ongoing task of teaching our children the joy of giving goes. Since our oldest, who is about to turn 10, was 6 years old, he has put aside 50 cents of his allowance every week to do something charitable with at the end of the year. Every single year he has chosen to buy toys to donate to Toys for Tots. Since this has become a tradition, we did the same thing with the twins when they started earning allowances this year.
Our 6 year old son did just fine with it. He saved his 50 cents each week all year long, picked out a toy he loved, and donated it, making a point to tell me that he would return when he had enough money to buy one for himself. His twin sister, however, had an awful time with it. She picked a toy that she loved, but then changed her mind about the toy multiple times. She seemed very conflicted. I think she did not want to donate a toy she wanted for herself and would rather choose a toy she liked less to donate. Ultimately, she chose a giant stuffed purple unicorn to donate and cried for the next two hours because she spent her money on a toy she loved and had to donate it. I was just beside myself and could not figure out another way to explain to her how happy a little girl just like her would be to receive the unicorn as a gift this Christmas and that it may be her only gift this year.
Another way we've tried to show our children the joys of giving is to have them gift presents to each other for Christmas and for birthdays. These are small, but thoughtful gifts that usually cost around $5 to $10 each. All 3 children do very well with this. They all put a lot of thought into what each sibling would really love. I can tell by the looks on their faces that they are overcome with joy when their gift to their brother or sister has successfully put a smile on that sibling's face. I also like doing this because it teaches our children that a gift does not need to have a high price ticket to be a great gift.
What kinds of things do you do to teach your children the joy of giving? Any ideas would be appreciated, as our work in progress continues in the new year.