December passes up by in a flash, but this is also such a perfect month to talk about the magic of giving with our children. December, as they say, is the season of giving. And that’s especially true if you are a parent! Don’t you agree?
Our children read about Santa bringing gifts and put down their own lists of what they want. One of the most important lessons play teaches you is how to share and coexist while playing with another person, also why playdates is a rite of passage for play! Let’s take a cue from play this season and try something new!
I want to teach my children about the real spirit of this season: the joy of giving. I want my kids to become more empathetic and generous. Be kind. Share…if not all of it, then some of it.
To find out how to put my grand plan into action, I wanted to speak to an expert.
Anjana Dhanavanthan, is a mom of two, a podcast producer, and runs her own podcast called The Lazy Parent. I asked her if it is really important to teach kids to give more? Doesn’t it go against the very nature of being kids?
“There is only a certain degree to which kids will understand the concept of sharing and that things need to be given to other people and the entire concept of giving as such but what happens is, it is the small things that accumulate into the larger picture over time. So, while you don’t want your child to be the kind of person who instantly gets up and gives to others, you want to keep instilling the thought in his or her head that at some point in time they themselves will start understanding the importance of it. In a time like ours where everyone is so alienated, where everyone is so busy in their own small circles, unless you give and share you don’t connect with others.
There is a very thin line of connection — and to strengthen that, it is good to give and connect with others and good to understand that you can bring joy in other people’s lives just by doing something small. You don’t have to go out of your way to do something but a tiny gesture would make a lot of difference.
To put this into action, here are a few easy ways you can teach your child to be kinder and make a difference.
Start a kindness calendar
I channeled the “How many more days to Christmas Ma?” question and helped my kids create a simple calendar that is a cross between a countdown chart and an advent calendar. Mark each day with a task that is easy to do and is all about doing something nice for someone else. Tasks can range from giving back to the school staff, choosing a toy from your cupboard to give away to someone or even doing one of your sibling’s chores as a small, nice gesture.
Teach Kids to Share
The first thing is they see charity begins at home. Teach kids to share, says Anjana. Say if I buy them an ice cream. My son is slightly butter fingered so if he drops it I nudge his sister and say, do you want to share it with anna do you think you could give him a bite and poor thing he dropped his ice cream and maybe she will say no twice but the third time when she sees him without an ice cream she goes and she says do you want a bite and even if it is a small thing, it makes a difference.
Choose Quality Time Over Gifts
Model the behaviour you want them to learn. Instead of shopping up a storm this festive season, I ensured that we spent a lot of quality time together as a family. Like trips to the park, playing together, cooking Christmas cookies together, setting up the tree, reading along, and so on. All of these directed some of their attention away from materialistic aspects and towards the more personal, warmer feelings and memories.
Also read: Gifting for kids made easy!
Do Something Special As a Family
Create memories and lasting impressions by starting a meaningful tradition that the whole family can be a part of. A friend has this lovely tradition where she celebrates her child’s birthday at an orphanage near their home. They take a cake, chips, and some sandwiches and spend a day at the orphanage just playing games and dancing to music. She says that over the years, this experience has taught her child a lot more than she could have ever imagined.
Learning about kindness starts from the smallest things, says Anjana. “It starts by just sharing your snack box at school. Those small things slowly start building a sense of togetherness in children and that’s very important.
She shares an interesting family tradition too. “Festivals in South India are about making sweets and buying new clothes. So what I do for my part is to ensure that I am making sweets for us at home then the kids also get to give these sweets to someone that they want to give it to. It could be their friends or teachers or our house help and her kids. I give them that choice and ask if we should pack a dabba for so and so”
Children are naturally generous it is all the material things they are surrounded by daily that make them want more than they ever need. This holiday season, give them a nudge in the right direction and take the first step towards raising more empathetic, giving, generous children. After all, Santa could use a break once in a while!