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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 15, 2014

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The spirit of the holidays gets buried under a pile of crunched-up wrapping paper.
The spirit of the holidays gets buried under a pile of crunched-up wrapping paper.

How do you teach young kids about giving?

My kids are 5 and 6, and at this point, the holidays are about one thing: ripping open presents. They wholeheartedly still believe in Santa (along with a Jewish gift-giver we made up named "The Chanukah Man"), and although they asked for a reasonable number of gifts, they only understand one side of the holiday coin: the receiving side.

To introduce the concept of giving, I took them holiday shopping a few times, and mentioned how fun it is to buy gifts for other people. However, I’m not sure how much that message got through. I wondered if they sensed my internal nervousness over spending more money than I really have, or the fact I was more annoyed by the crowds than enjoying the present-shopping experience.

So, I am wondering what else I can do to stress the importance of giving at the holidays. When they are older, I will consider volunteering for a meal program, but I think they’re a little young for that now. But surely there are ways to demonstrate giving to little kids, right?

Talkbacks

dhall | Dec. 16, 2008 at 12:57 p.m. (report)

Every year our family buys presents for children through the Bay View Community Center. Our kids range in ages from 1 up to 10 & the older ones enjoy shopping for the children we get. They really take their time in trying to figure out what they would want if it were them.....of course our kids still have the eye on the prize for the morning of the 25th. They have come to understand that there are families who are in need of help & if you are in a position to help then you should do something.

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dburz | Dec. 13, 2008 at 8:04 a.m. (report)

Many local charities accepts gifts that are donated to local children. Shop with your kids and let them pick out and wrap a gift, explaining it is for a child like them whose family can't afford what they have. Take them to COA, La Causa, March of Dimes or wherever to drop off the gift with them. Journal Sentinel has a list of charities if you need ideas.

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Broner | Dec. 12, 2008 at 7:23 p.m. (report)

Make sure your kids are there when you mail your property tax bill. That way they can see how you "give" your money to the government to pay for wonderful MPS schools.

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buck | Dec. 12, 2008 at 2:10 p.m. (report)

no need to invent "The Chanukah Man" when there is already Hanukah Harry!

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mitchgat | Dec. 12, 2008 at 8:24 a.m. (report)

34110 So many ways... you're probably doing a few and didn't even realize it...

Make sure they have specific chores to do... this shows them how to GIVE their time doing the routine things in life. It also sets an expectation that you aren't the hired help! Finally it helps them to understand that they live in the house and need to carry their own weight.

If there's a senior citizen center near you, or if you belong to a church or synagogue, have your kids make presents (snowflakes or pictures of snowman or something cheerful) and GIVE them to seniors. The seniors love the attention and it fosters cross generation interaction.

Give them change to put in the Salvation Army buckets and tell them that they did a "good thing" by giving money to help people not as fortunate as they are.

If they like animals, give to the Humane Society of WI. Find a charity that they would like and have them give to it... from their allowance of course.

When you're at the grocery store, set aside $5 each time, dedicated to buying something for a family in need. At the end of the month, have your kids help you bag the food and deliver it to a food pantry.

Maybe the best way to teaching about giving is to model the behavior for them! Good luck.

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