The holidays are upon us. We are all busy decorating, shopping, baking, celebrating and visiting family. Reminders of Santa and his elves are all around and your kids are probably getting excited about a visit from the man in red and making their lists. However, we want our kids to focus on more than just receiving. Giving truly is more rewarding and it can be the focus of your holiday season for you and your kids. Here are 4 tips to help you get your kids in the giving spirit.

Make Gratitude a Family Value

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Being grateful for what you have allows you to give freely and joyfully. If your kids are grateful, they realize how much they have and they are not focused on others who seem to have more. However, gratitude isn’t easy for people. Gratitude is “a complex and refined moral disposition.” One talk with your kids won’t suddenly turn them into grateful people. It is a start that can lead to real change for everyone in your family though. Studies show that gratitude increases satisfaction, motivation, and energy. Grateful people sleep better and are healthier. Grateful people experience less stress!

So how can you foster gratitude in your children? Children learn by example. Are you a grateful person? Do you display gratitude for what you have or do you focus on what you don’t have? Researchers offer easy ways to model gratitude for your children.

  • First, thank your children. Show them you are grateful for them, their behavior and their contributions to the world. Even if your child is doing something you asked them to do, make sure to say thank you.
  • Second, encourage your children to express their gratitude to friends and family by drawing pictures or writing notes.
  • Third, let your children hear you thank people and talk about how grateful you are for things everyday. After dinner, say “I am so grateful for all the healthy food we have to eat and how well you all ate your dinner.”

Little changes like these will turn into big changes in the hearts and attitudes of everyone around you. The more grateful you and your children are, the more you will want to give out of the abundance that you now realize you have in your life.

We have some more great tips on How to Encourage an Attitude of Gratitude.

Explain That There are Needs in Your Community

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You never want to guilt your child into giving, but you do want to explain to your child that there are needs in this world that need to be met and that you can be the people to meet some of those needs. Have this conversation in a way that is positive and age appropriate. For example, if you are going to donate some toys for a holiday toy drive, just tell your young child that there are kids who do not have any toys at all. State the fact. Don’t get emotional about it. Very young kids aren’t developmentally capable of real empathy yet so they aren’t going to actually put themselves in another child’s shoes emotionally. However, they can understand that someone has nothing and you can give them something.

Let Your Child Pick What to Give

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Once you have explained that there are needs to be met in your community, let your child pick out how he wants to give and what he wants to give. Kids love to feel in control and have ownership over a situation. It builds confidence when kids make decisions and plan things on their own. This should also be age appropriate. An older child can plan this from start to finish. If you have a toddler or young child, you may want to give him a few options to choose from.

We encourage you to get started on a giving project right away! Tis the season, after all! If you want help getting your kids started, check out Hasbro’s Joy Maker Challenge. There are resources for how to get your kids volunteering in your community, and for every kid who participates in the challenge, Hasbro will donate a toy or game to Toys for Tots! Your child can also win grants to go toward their service project. The Joy Maker challenge runs through December 23, 2015. Share your experiences on social media with #JoyMaker.

Make Giving an Exciting Event

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The actual act of giving should be so fun that it is electric! Giving out of gratitude and an understanding that some people need a little help will feel good to any child. If you have let your child pick out how and what you are giving, he or she will be excited to see the plan come to life. Get the whole family involved. Invite friends to join you. If you put a fun group of kids and parents together, giving will be a celebration. For example, if you are donating toys, plan the drop off and go out for pizza together afterwards to keep the fun going. The group members will feed off each other’s positive and grateful energy. Your kids will be asking when you are going to give or serve others again and may even start planning something themselves.

With the help of a very generous donation from Hasbro, some of our kids were able to donate 50 toys to community organizations. Our kids donated the incredible Hasbro toys to two organizations: A local single moms ministry and The Children’s Hospital of Alabama’s Sugar Plum Shop. The children of single moms will receive a toy as a surprise at an upcoming Christmas party being held in their honor. The Sugar Plum Shop is an in-hospital store where parents of children who have to spend their holidays in the hospital can shop free of charge. Our kids loved being a part of donating the toys from Hasbro. Never once did they ask to keep the toys for themselves, and they were so excited and proud to present the toys to the recipient organizations. Thanks to Hasbro for kick starting the spirit of giving in our kids!

Giving really is better than receiving. Your children will feel the joy of helping others in ways you cannot even imagine. So, put down the lists to Santa, leave the elf on the shelf and get out in your community to meet some needs together as a family! You will have a holiday season filled with joy instead of stress and that’s something we can all get behind!

Don’t forget to stay up to date with Daily Mom this Holiday Season. Also, make sure you check us out on Social Media and use our Holiday hashtag, #dmholiday

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Sources: The Psychology of GratitudeFour Ways Children Learn Gratitude 

Photo Credit: Kristen

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Kristen Douglas
Kristen Douglas
Kristen lives in Alabama with her handsome hubby and sweet son, along with her cat who thinks he’s a dog. Happily, she left behind the life of a Washington D.C. attorney to be a stay at home mama in the south.

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