Putting the Giving in Thanksgiving

We’ve already addressed generosity and how to help your kids develop a sense of thankfulness during the holiday season—but if you want your kids to be the kind of people who frequently and freely give of their time and resources, you can use the Thanksgiving holiday as a starting point for year-round conversations about giving.

It may not always seem like it—especially when you’ve had to referee your 1,000th “that’s MINE!” argument—but kids truly are already inclined toward kindness and generosity to others. They are quick to comfort those in tears and often notice those in need around them, even before adults do. Kids who come from families that are engaged in charitable giving are more likely to do it themselves as they grow up, so now is the time to harness those precocious hearts and steer them in a direction that aligns with your family values towards generosity.

Talk to Your Kids About Giving

A study from Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy showed that talking about giving with children coupled with modeling it is more effective than modeling it without discussion. That means your kids need to hear why you’re supporting a cause or organization, and not just see you write a check or click a box online. For instance, you could say something like “We take a box to the food pantry once a month because we are thankful for all the yummy food we have to keep us healthy, and we want to make sure families who can’t afford healthy food can have it too.”

Through talking, kids are able to understand not just that your family gives, but that you give to specific causes or organizations in order to meet very specific and tangible needs.  Helping kids understand why you value giving helps them apply those values in their own lives as they grow.

Get Your Kids Involved in Giving

Experience is the best teacher, as kids can see and feel firsthand the impact of giving. When you simply make a donation online, kids won’t be able to connect the dots. As you talk to your kids about giving, help them find ways to do so that resonate with them. Perhaps they’ve already asked you questions about people not having enough food to eat, or you’ve donated gently worn toys or clothing before. Ask your kids how they want to give of what they have—their answers may surprise you! Then, you can find ways to actively experience giving together.

One way to do so, if you’re not sure where to begin, is #GivingTuesday. Far more than just a hashtag, this online movement of charitable giving helps you search for neighborhood charitable organizations that need your skills, time and stuff.

Make Time for Giving

Even if your family doesn’t feel rich in dollars, you can express the value of giving by volunteering your time.  Studies have shown that people who volunteer have “higher self-esteem, psychological well-being and happiness.”

When kids experience that level of social connection early on, it can stick with them, and lead them to keep volunteering as teens and adults. There is nothing like seeing the impact first hand. Whether it’s a one-time project like a neighborhood cleanup or going to an assisted living facility to spend time with the elderly each week or month, giving of your time as a family reaps big benefits for you, and for others.

How does your family like to give of your resources and time? Share one of the most impactful experiences you and your daughter experienced while giving. Share below in the comments!

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