Teaching the Joy of Giving to Our Children . . . A Work in Progress

Monday, December 30, 2013
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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.

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Published by Karen Coutu
  1. We struggle with this a lot - teaching not only the joy of giving but also GRATITUDE! I laughed at the part about your daughter - I can see that EXACT scenario going down at our house! lol

    Posted on December 30, 2013 at 8:37 PM

  2. Your kids are so cute. Your idea of encouraging your kids to save money each week to use towards gifts for others is great. Teaching your kids to give with a happy heart is hard. I don't have any answers. My husband and I always made a point to show our kids what it was like to give to others so they are pretty generous and giving now that they are adults and make their own money.

    Posted on December 30, 2013 at 9:15 PM

  3. LyndaS Said,

    I have not worked on it. I really need to teach my kids better. I was delighted that my older child bought a gift for the younger child without being asked. Baby steps, eh?

    Posted on December 30, 2013 at 9:19 PM

  4. I love the idea of actively teaching your children the joy of giving. We tried to do that this year with our 3 year old. She picked out a toy because it was for her buddy, but she was a bit confused when he got to take it home. Eh, it's a work in progress. :)

    Posted on December 30, 2013 at 9:19 PM

  5. My two boys are natural givers. They would give you their shirts off their backs if they thought it would help you in some way. I definitely did not teach them to be this way, but they are. Now showing gratitude and appreciation for what they do have...that's a whole another issue all together.

    It sounds like you're doing a wonderful thing with your kids. I imagine one day they will value that you do this with great fond memories.

    Posted on December 30, 2013 at 10:12 PM

  6. Karen Said,

    Mine are all grown up, but when they were young, we filled Christmas stockings, made food boxes, and when they were teens, they went with the fire department to deliver the stockings and food boxes. As teens they saw firsthand how the poor in our town lived, and cried for them when they told me about their experience. They have never forgotten those experiences. My oldest daughter is now 40 and she picks four children's names off the giving tree to buy gifts for every Christmas.

    Posted on December 31, 2013 at 12:48 AM

  7. It can be difficult and like your children, some want to give and others not too eager to do so. We like to let them donate canned goods and give special gifts to those who are less fortunate. I have one granddaughter that my daughter is not guardian for and she has never been use to sharing or giving so it is very very difficult for her and gets aggravating trying to teach her the importance of it. then have a grandson that would give anyone anything, he has the biggest heart of any child I know.

    Posted on December 31, 2013 at 5:03 AM

  8. VickeC Said,

    they get to take a name off the giving tree at the local kmart,,but during the year,I take them to the nursing home or local food bank an volunteer

    Posted on December 31, 2013 at 11:36 AM

  9. Sounds like you are on the right track! I think learning the joy of giving comes with age too. It seems like every year that goes by I care less and less about acquiring things and more and more about giving to others. It's so gratifying it's almost addictive!

    Posted on December 31, 2013 at 4:52 PM

  10. My four year old has no siblings in the house so I don't have anyone at home to teach him about giving but this is something I really want to do. When did you start giving an allowance to your kids?

    Posted on December 31, 2013 at 10:56 PM

  11. Karen Coutu Said,

    @Denise Taylor-Dennis: We started allowances at 6yr old because 1st grade seemed like when the children really understood addition and subtraction, and when they were taught to count pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters in school.

    Posted on January 1, 2014 at 1:11 AM


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