Do you want your kids to grow up to be generous adults? Christmas is the perfect time to explore and model empathic responses to the less fortunate. Let’s wrap this Xmas in generosity!
Generosity and empathy are complex phenomena. They rely on a person’s self-awareness and capacity for emotional regulation, as well as the ability to take the perspective of others. This is why you, as the parent, need to groom your little person to understand themselves, relative to others.
Everyday generosity leading into Xmas
As a parent, simply pointing out situations that call for empathy is a good start. You don’t need to turn on the news and discuss the injustices of the world with your little one. Just grab a picture book, and start talking about the character’s feelings under different scenarios. We simply love Melrose and Croc by Emma Chichester Clark, which explores loneliness and the gift of friendship at Christmas.
Building the concept of paying it forward can come from celebrating something nice someone did for you – how it made you feel and your desire to do the same thing for someone else, are really important points to draw out. It can be as simple as talking about someone letting you go ahead of them at the busy checkout, or a friend asking you over for a cup of tea.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be the kind gesture of a stranger or friend either. Celebrating empathy and generosity in the home is incredibly valuable for building strong family bonds. The most lavish praise I give to my children (that has already paid dividends a million times over) is on their acts of kindness towards each other.
Generosity at Christmas
Generosity in the home
Why not swap that Advent calendar filled with sugary lollies, with a more traditional and meaningful version. As a child, ever year without fail, an adult family friend sent me an Advent calendar (I was devastated at the age of 13 when she stopped, thinking I was too old). It was always a beautiful Xmas scene embellished with glitter, with each window opening to reveal a sweet wish or saying. Why not fill decorated and numbered envelopes with a sweet gesture – kiss Mummy 10 times and she will chase you down the hallway.
Swapping physical gifts for experiences can also bring back meaning to Xmas and relieve the post-Xmas issue of ‘where are we going to put all these toys’. Likewise, emphasisng the value of home-made gifts can help to re-calibrate Xmas. For this reason, we love Grug and his first Christmas by Ted Prior. Grug discovers Xmas and sets about making presents for all his friends, and is surprised to receive a gift of his own.
Generosity in the community
There are so many charitable institutions doing amazing things in the community – you wouldn’t go wrong in choosing any particular one to support at Xmas.
The ones that make a connection or association between my children and other children in need are my personal favourites. More so given that a recent report revealed that 731,300 or 17.4% of all children were living in poverty in Australia.
The Smith Family
The Smith Family does exceptionally well with the ability to click through and choose gifts on-line for less-advantaged children based on their age, or interests. My daughter was particularly taken by the beautiful gift icons, and is weeding the garden to earn money to select an art and craft gift for a disadvantaged child at Christmas.
GIVIT Kids is relatively new to the scene. The GIVIT Kids website enables children to give safely and anonymously to impoverished, isolated and marginalized Australians. On the GIVIT Kids List, registered charities request urgently required items such as school uniforms, books, sports and musical equipment for Australians in need, with a strong focus on children in need.
Another great aspect to GIVIT Kids is its learning centre. With the aim developing a culture of philanthropic young Australians, it has a growing set of learning resources that integrate with the Australian Civics and Citizenship curriculum.
Do you wish to share any ideas for making this Xmas an especially generous one?