In My Favorite Online Posts This Week! post on 12/2, I posted a link with some ideas on teaching children to give. This got me thinking about ways I want to start planning to use to teach my children to give, so I had to start thinking in “toddler terms.”
This is by no means an extensive list, nor is it a list from an experienced mama–again, my firstborn is only 18 months, and my second child isn’t even born yet! I simply wanted to share my own ideas for what I have already started doing and what I hope to do with my youngsters.
#1: Lead by example!! (I had to steal this one from the post that inspired me because it’s so true!) Be the kind of giver you want your children to become! Actions lead more efficiently than words, every time.
#2: Encourage/demonstrate small acts of kindness. My little boy has started helping other children, such as retrieving and giving back a dropped pacifier to a younger girl. He got me thinking I could take this further so I’ve started showing him how to actually help another child whenever possible–all his efforts are clumsy, but the thought is there! I don’t want to let chances like that slip by without reinforcing it.
The younger the child, the more you will have to demonstrate and help with a helping action just to give them the idea. But I dare say it will be worth it when they suddenly start doing it all on their own! Perseverance pays off!
#3: Volunteer at your local food pantry or similar ministry. Since toddlers are a little young to understand why the behind-the-scenes work is necessary and helpful, see if you can volunteer to actually hand the food to people in need. The physical and helpful act of handing something to someone will be more meaningful to a toddler.
Remember, toddlers might not fully understand yet, but you are simply planting the seeds at this age! This is what I have to keep reminding myself anyways! 🙂
#4: Draw pictures/birthday cards/Christmas cards and deliver them to the elderly in your local nursing home. Toddlers and the elderly are 2 age groups that love each other, and this is a great age to introduce your children to an environment that can be uncomfortable if they never see it until they are older. And the innocent friendliness of a toddler can break through to brighten up the day of even the toughest nursing home occupant.
#5: Help your toddler pack an Operation Christmas Child shoe box for a child the same age as your little one. This is obviously only appropriate for the time leading up to the Christmas season, but you’d be surprised at how enthusiastic a child can be when they know they are giving to another child who is just like them! Definitely worth it!
I can’t wait to do this with my little boy for next Christmas because he will be two and half and should hopefully be able to understand what we are doing.
#6: Bake a simple treat, like brownies, with your toddler and let them give them to the mailman/a neighbor/etc. As long as they are old enough to understand that they are making something for someone else, I think this would be a great way for toddlers to appreciate the idea of creating something to give away to brighten someone’s day.
What are ways you have taught or are currently using to teach your children to give back?