Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas: All four of these major holidays are huge profit opportunities for stores and manufacturers, and it’s easy to get caught up in the materialism that’s so ever-present. To combat this, the best route is to make giving as much a part of the holidays as receiving for your child.
Does it even matter that my child gives?
Giving to others teaches huge lessons to children. Some of these clearly and easily relate back to money, such as showing your child that donations are tax deductible or looking for the best Black Friday sale on a desired item. Other lessons go beyond your child’s piggy bank. For example, giving teaches your child to look beyond themselves and see the needs other people have. This ability is a catalyst for fostering stronger and more meaningful interpersonal relationships. Your child learns how good it feels to be compassionate and make a difference in someone’s life, as well. Lastly, giving makes your child more aware of particular social constructs, class differences and economic issues—your child comes to truly understand why giving is necessary under a lens that is much more complex than the basic (but oh-so-true) explanation of “it’s the right thing to do.” These lessons can affect how your child views the world and treats his finances for the rest of his life.
Ways to Get the Giving Ball Rolling
Many parents are on the right track in encouraging their children to save, whether the savings comes from allowance or other sources such as a babysitting job. You can go the extra step by asking your child to put a certain percentage of the savings toward charity all year. Then when the holidays hit, have your child donate those funds. He won’t feel like the holidays are stealing such a huge chunk of his change if he knows from the get-go that that money is meant for someone else.
Of course, once your child has saved well, you need to figure out exactly who gets the money. Resist the urge to control this decision for your child. Kids will remember the experience of giving and get more out of it if they personally own the choice of how to give. You can offer up a few suggestions if they’re stumped, but always encourage them to investigate all their options and find a charity they really resonate with. Be willing to hop in the car to let your child see what his money really is funding.
Kids have a tendency to accumulate a ton of toys over time, so an easy option for encouraging giving during the holidays is to have them pick out some items they want to donate. Try to get them to give one toy for each one they receive, although you and your child should take the value of each item into account. This strategy works for any time your child receives a gift (e.g., birthdays), so it’s good year-round. Bonus? It keeps your house from suffering clutter syndrome!
Not every family has the funds to give extensively, and that’s okay. If this is the case for you, have your child make up coupons. Each coupon is based on a service or act of kindness, such as doing some extra chores or volunteering at a senior home. These coupons are a fantastic method for reminding your child that some of the best giving has no link whatsoever to anything you can buy. Don’t forget manufacturer coupons altogether, though. Have your child see what items he can get completely free all year by combining sales and the coupons—items such as toothpaste and toilet paper are always good choices.
Overall, the best thing you can do if you want your child to give through the holidays is to model that giving yourself. Keep in mind that the way you give strongly influences the direction your child takes in his own charity, so be frank about why you’ve selected certain options over others.