This is the holiday season and it is important to remind your children about acts of kindness —what they are and how to perform them—and how to express gratitude for the kindness they receive from others.
As exciting and happy as this time of year is for many, it is heartbreaking for some and even young children should be aware that there are people who don’t receive gifts, special food, treats, or who can’t attend and enjoy holiday events.
Teach Children About People Less Fortunate Than Themselves
The easiest way to help children appreciate what they have and to feel empathy for those who have less is through story telling. Talk to your children about families who can’t afford to buy presents, a tree, or a holiday feast. Tailor your stories to the age of your child and the ways your family can help.
You don’t want youngsters to feel real grief for children who are suffering because of war in their country, or from serious illnesses, or shattered by the death of parents. Children worry a lot about things they can do nothing about and many fear the loss or illness of their own parents—you don’t want to add to those kinds of concerns.
Focus on children in your community whose parent are out of work, or can’t find jobs that pay enough to buy extras like presents, new clothes, or holiday treats. Help your children imagine what it is like not to have enough money to give gifts and not to receive them.
Teach Children the Joy of Helping People who Need Help
There are a number of ways that your children can perform acts of kindness in preparation for the holiday season:
- Toy Drives – Check your local newspaper to learn where toys can be taken for community toy drives. Explain the meaning of “toy drive” and take your child to buy a toy for another child he will never meet within the price range you can afford. Have him imagine being a child who receives only one gift. What would he like that gift to be? After purchasing a toy have him imagine a child opening a gift and finding the toy that was just chosen for him.
- Contributions of Money – Explain what the Salvation Army does for families who have no money to celebrate the holiday season. Point out the bell ringers who tend the donation boxes for this well-known funding organization. The next time you are shopping with your child, have money ready so that both of you can contribute to this organization. Have your child imagine a special dinner and what food he would want to eat or warm clothing he might want to wear so that he understands what his contribution will help buy for a family.
- Grocery Items – Grocery stores often have boxes or bags where you can contribute food for people who can’t buy enough food for their families. When your child is with you in a grocery store, have him help you pick out a cereal, or some food he likes and put it in the contribution bin. Have him imagine a child who sometimes has nothing to eat for breakfast finding the cereal in his cupboard and how happy he will be.
Teach Your Children How to Express Thanks
It is amazing that there are some adults who never learned how to say “thank you.” Make sure your children know how to perform this simple function. Explain, demonstrate, rehearse, and remind.
Even if a child receives a shirt instead of a toy as a gift, make sure he knows that it is good manners to say “thank you” with enthusiasm, and look the giver in the eye and smile as he says it.
It is important that your children know the joy of performing acts of kindness and know how to express gratitude, too. This is the perfect season for learning both.
Happy Holidays, Everyone!
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Maureen Grenier and a clickable link back to this page.