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Teaching the Importance of Giving to Others

As the holidays grow nearer, many of us are thinking about helping and giving to those closest to us. But, how often do we stop to really think about why we are giving and why giving to others is so important? And even more than that, what do we say to those closest to us about why we give, especially to the children in our lives?. In a recent study, 94% of Americans believe that parents play a key role in getting their children involved in charity efforts, yet in the same survey, 70% of parents admitted that their children are not currently involved in any charitable activities. Parents cited family commitments, concern over how contributions will be used, and time as the most common excuses in not getting their kids involved in helping others (familyeducation.com). So to help you get started, here are some ways to get your family thinking about giving, and teaching the children in your life about the importance of giving to others: 1. Get Started. Okay, so your kids may have never seen the inside of a homeless shelter, nor donated a single item for a charity toy drive. Talk about it! "You know, we really haven't made this a priority as a family, and that was a mistake, so now we're going to," is a great place to start. 2. Remember the 2 Gs: Gratitude and Giving. You can't have one without the other, they go hand in hand. Giving children a chance to help others is how they learn to appreciate what they have. Remind them of this, and first teach them gratitude before teaching them giving. 3. Let Kids Decide How to Give. You may think that supporting the arts or contributing to the fight against cancer are the most important ways to make a difference. Your five-year-old may want to donate toys to other children or give money to a local park. The type of giving matters less than the opportunity to empower the younger generation to understand what it means to give to others. 4. Be Concrete. Dropping coins into a collection box can indeed make a difference, but most young children can't understand where the money goes beyond the pail. Explain to them how this money is used, where it is going, who it may help, and how it makes a difference. Make the giving experience real for them whenever possible, so they can better understand and see directly who they are helping. 5. Give Non-material Gifts. Help your children learn how to give non-material gifts. Teach them to help out a neighbor, carry in groceries for you when you get home, lend a snack to a friend at school without a lunch, etc. These simple steps are ways of helping others, without giving anything of real material value. Simple things, like accomplishing a chore without complaining or expressing thankfulness can all be ways of helping and giving without purchasing a single item. Small acts of kindness are forms of giving that send the same message to children as a monetary gift - that your family cares about others. Remember, you can make helping fun and teach your kids that giving back to others is truly a joyful experience. There are many ways that you can make helping others and giving back experiences real and fun for you and your children. Here are some suggestions of things you can do together for others: -Donate to a charitable organization like Someplace Safe -Invite an elderly neighbor over for a family celebration or meal. Explain to your kids why this might be something that neighbor will enjoy -Deliver a meal to a family in need -Help your kids to donate clothes and toys they have outgrown to local schools, churches, or the Someplace Safe Thrift Store -Visit hospital patients and spend time talking with them. Write colorful notes or cards to be given to the children and families -Foster a pet from a local shelter -Shovel snow or rake leaves for a neighbor as a fun surprise -Help pick up trash at a local park -Join local community members in a community service project or other volunteer opportunity All of these are ways to help teach your children how to help others, not just during the holiday season, but all year long. Simple actions and involving your kids in those actions, while explaining the good that they do for others, can help to show your children the true meaning of helping others. Often, while teaching our children these important lessons, we as adults find that we have more joy in helping, because we are setting an example for our own children. Helping others is an important tool in helping to teach gratitude and to be thankful for what we have. Helping others helps us to find joy and share that joy with our children. To learn more about giving to Someplace Safe or ways to help others during the holidays, visit the Give section of our website at www.someplacesafe.info/give.

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