Teaching Your Children How to Be Generous Rather than Greedy

"But I want it!"

We have all witnessed this embarrassing holiday scene. A mother tightly holds her child's arm as she attempts to drag him from the toy section of the department store. Her son is screaming, "But I want it! You never get me anything!" In hushed tones, the mother tries to reason with her son -- with little success. His continuing demands drown her quiet pleas as she leads the boy from the store, red-faced and screaming.

Do not give in to these shouted demands from your children. However, we really cannot blame the children for wanting things at holiday time. Starting in early September and continuing all through the holidays, the commercials on television target children nine years and younger with a barrage of messages. TV is teaching your child to ask, "Can I have that for Christmas?" It is not your child's fault that he succumbs to the media's electronic brainwashing.

Give a Gift that Lasts a Lifetime

As parents, it is our responsibility to overcome that media message and teach our children the correct spirit for the holidays. Be patient with your children. Today's world focuses on material attainment. Teaching children that it is better to give than receive is a challenging task. The good news is that a child who learns the value of generosity has received a gift that lasts a lifetime.

How can we teach our children that Christmas, Hanukah, and other holiday celebrations are times for generosity, not greed?

In whatever way you define the holiday season, if you want your children to have the true holiday spirit, you need to display a good example of that spirit yourself. Model the spirit of generosity and giving that you would like to see in your children. If we want children to view the holidays as a time of giving and loving, then we must demonstrate giving and loving behavior in ways that they can recognize and understand.

One way is to engage your children in activities that demonstrate what you believe to be the true spirit of the holidays. Spending the holidays serving meals at a homeless shelter, donating canned goods to a food drive, and visiting the elderly in a nursing home are all ways to show your children that giving is what the holiday season is about. (See below for more ways to teach your children about sharing during the holidays.)

Of course, your children will also receive during this season, so it's important to help them to learn to receive graciously, too. Teach the traditional reasons why we exchange gifts during the holidays.

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