As adults, entering the festive season often leaves us feeling reflective about the year that has somehow, already passed. We take the time to learn from our mistakes and set up goals for the coming year, and look forward to spending the holidays with our loved ones. Children also feel a definite shift at this time of year, but their thoughts tend to circle the many gifts they’re hoping to receive. Yes, the holidays are the ultimate time of year for children, filled with eager anticipation of the ripping open endless gifts.
The festive season has many elements, but the two most popular concepts are giving and receiving. But are children too focused on the receiving aspect? It’s easy for all of us to lose sight of the big picture at times, and children are particularly susceptible to this. Tree of Hope, the UK’s leading crowdfunding charity for children with illnesses and disabilities, offers 5 tips for awakening the giving spirit in your children this holiday season.
- Get them involved with shopping
Getting your child involved in shopping for gifts for their siblings, grandparents or family friends is a great way to take the focus off themselves and get them thinking about others. Encourage them to think of ideas for gifts their family members would like, and then take them shopping to pick out the items. You can also enlist their help with wrapping the gifts.
Being involved in the shopping process will get them excited to give the gift to their loved ones and see their reactions. Children love feeling proud of their actions, and the act of giving something special to those they love will mean a lot to them.
- Focus on their other favourite things about the holidays
Ask just about any child what they love most about this special time of year, and the answer will be a resounding “presents!” But there is a lot to look forward to about the festive season that goes beyond gifts. Talk to your child about what else they love about the holidays, and list a few of your favourite things, too.
Whether it’s baking, seeing family, festive films, decorating or just the wonderful feeling of togetherness that takes over the season. Get them to make a list of the other things they love about the festive period to get them thinking about things other than presents. Encourage them to think about the ways they enjoy giving at this time of year, as well. This will help them understand that giving is just as important as receiving during the holidays.
- Give back
Getting involved with a charity is one of the best ways to teach your children to give back, and this can be done any time of year. Whether you get involved in fundraising, volunteering or donating money or items, there are so many ways to give back to those less fortunate during the holidays. By giving your child the opportunity to see the struggles of others, and showing them that they can help make a difference, you can ignite the giving spirit within them.
Pick a charity with your children that they’d like to help, and come up with ways they can give back. Do they have old toys they’d like to donate to a toy drive? Could they bake something for a bake sale, or participate in a fun run? Perhaps they’d like to go through the cupboard and choose items to donate to a local food bank. Giving to a charity helps children to understand the joy that comes with helping others and expecting nothing in return.
- Start a new tradition
Traditions are the backbone for many families, and some our favourite memories centre around a fun tradition that’s unique to your family. As the holidays approach, speak with your children about new traditions you could begin. Have they always wanted to try something festive, like attending a winter festival or ice skating? Maybe their friends’ families have a tradition that they’d like to try.
Some families spend an evening driving around town looking at holiday decorations and lights, while others might spend the evening volunteering at a shelter. If you can somehow integrate the act of giving in your new holiday tradition, it will go a long way in making sure your child looks forward to being generous each festive season, and the memories they create during the process.
- Have a good deed day
In the weeks leading up to the holidays, get the whole family together to take part in a good deed day. As a family, come up with a list of things you’d like to do to help others. This could mean gritting your elderly neighbour’s drive, leaving baked goods for the postman, or bringing hot drinks to construction workers or security guards who have to work out in the cold.
Involving your children in coming up with ideas for random acts of kindness goes a long way in getting them excited about giving back, and more importantly, realising how rewarding this can be.