The holiday season is a wonderful time to start teaching children about philanthropy and the joys of giving. The key to encouraging your child to become a life-long giver is a simple equation: Your Talent + Your Passion = Your Superpower! You don't have to be bitten by a spider to be a superhero. By encouraging each child to combine their individual talents and passions, you can make giving an integral part of their lives.
Here are a few simple tips to help your child reveal their inner superhero!
1. Discuss how important it is to give as well as to receive. Read them a book with a Christmas theme, and discuss the spirit of the holidays as seen in these books. My family used to attend yearly performances of A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens’ classic tale of a man who learns the value of giving back. O Henry’s story of The Gift of the Magi also shows how much people who care for each other are willing to give up to make each other happy. Dr. Seuss’ Christmas classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, is another fun way to introduce the concept of the Christmas spirit and giving.
2. Engage in giving as a family. There are an abundance of opportunities to show children how to give, and to explain to them that while Christmas might be an opportunity to receive presents, it’s also a great time to give back! There are so many wonderful opportunities to give over the Christmas holidays. Participate in a Turkey Trot or other run to benefit a charity. Stop by a local church or mall to find an Angel tree and shop for Christmas presents for a child who might otherwise not get anything. Bring your kids along when you deliver meals through programs like Meals on Wheels. Donate new or gently used toys to programs like Toys for Tots. Arrange a Christmas carol sing-along at a local retirement home. Send Christmas letters or treats to troops stationed overseas. Drop some change in a Santa bell-ringer’s jar.
3. Cultivate their passion. Now that you’ve participated in giving, figure out what kind of giving interests your child. What’s their passion? Perhaps they would like to do something to help kids like them who are sick or in need. Perhaps they are interested in the natural world and would like to do something to help the environment. Encourage your child to think of a way that she/he can give back to a charitable initiative that they feel a connection to. Engaging your children in giving back to something they care about will make them life-long givers.
4. Unleash their talents. Expose your child to the tools necessary for them to create his/her own charity project by combining their passion for a particular cause with their strengths or interests. Is your child a baker? Then she/he can have a bake sale to raise money for a favorite charity. Perhaps she/he is crafty and can sell trinkets made. Athlete? Organize a sporting event to raise awareness for a charity they care about. My daughter, Rachel, is an actress. She put on a show to benefit the Susan G Komen Foundation after discovering three of her aunts had been diagnosed with breast cancer. You can show them online tools for raising money, and give examples of what other children have done to make the world a better place.
5. Embrace their individuality and re-enforce that they can make a difference. Help your children learn Ebenezer Scrooge’s lesson: “"I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” Now that your children know about giving, help them continue to give throughout the year!
Using these tips, you can show your children how the holiday spirit can spark interest and get them moving toward making the world a better place all year round!
Enter the Global Game Changers contest!
Readers: “Like” the Global Game Changers Facebook page and then post a picture of your child(ren) in action “igniting good!” Jan will choose one lucky fan to receive a gift pack complete with The Global Game Changers book, an Ignite Good! superhero cape, a 56-page Ignite Good! Activity Book, and $30 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada only and will end at 11:59 PM EST on December 7, 2012.