As the season of excess approaches, balance out your holiday indulgences with charity work and volunteering. Teaching your children to be charitable is a great gift for them and for the community in which you live. When children do volunteer work and interact with people who are less fortunate, they learn to be grateful for all that they have.
Getting the picture
Teaching gratitude can be a difficult lesson as children compare themselves to their peers and don’t have a global frame of reference. Helping them to be charitable to others introduces them to people outside of their comfort zone so that they can see just how fortunate they really are. Besides, giving really is better than receiving and the joy of helping others is a wonderfully rewarding experience for kids.
Talk about Charity
While being a good role model is key, research shows that talking about charity is an effective way to introduce the idea. Get your kids to list all the things they have to be grateful for and talk about the fact that others may not be as fortunate. Discuss financial charitable contributions and doing things for people in your community that don’t cost money. Pair fun activities with giving so that your children have positive associations with charitable work.
Give them a vote
Ask your children what they would like to do for charity. It can be something like donating toys and old clothes, raising money for a charity of their choice or helping a neighbor with daily chores.
Get older children to investigate charities in your community and in the world that they would like to contribute to. Visit local food banks or shelters to volunteer. When they meet people in their communities and read up online about conditions in developing countries, they get a more tangible idea of what life is like for other people.
Include Mother Nature
While charity tends to focus on our fellow humans over the holidays, don’t forget the environment on your list of things to do. Discuss with your kids ways in which they can improve the environment in your backyard, in their communities, in their country and in the world.
Here are a list of things you can consider for charitable activities over the holidays:
- Visit a local senior’s home and talk to the residents.
- Volunteer at a local toy drive or soup kitchen.
- Donate toys and clothing to charity.
- Help elderly neighbors to shop, shovel their drives or take out their trash.
- Ask some of your relatives for charitable gifts instead of personal ones. You can buy a goat for a family in Africa, plant a tree in a reforestation program or sponsor a child’s education.
- Raise money for a good cause through bake sales, cocoa stands, doing chores for neighbors etc.
- Feed the birds and other wildlife in your yard.
- Organize a garbage cleanup of your local natural areas.
Raise money for endangered species.
pic by Sharon Mollerus