Giving the Giving Lesson

GivingUsing the traditional birthday party gifts as a way to teach our kids about giving and helping the less fortunate is a great thing to do, but not so easy. The problem has always been making it something our children WANT to do. It’s hard to ask a child to give up receiving the birthday party gifts. In short- you can’t ASK, but you CAN set the stage for them to make the decision all on their own.

And perhaps this lousy economy has given parents a good way to get their child thinking in this direction. Two sisters from Youngstown Ohio came up with the idea to raise money for others with their birthday gifts all on their own, but their reasoning is telling:

“I know what it’s like to not have a lot of food and to think about what you have and what you need to get,” said Abby, a fifth-grader at Western Reserve Middle School. “We just want to give back because so many people have done so much nice stuff for us.”

Chances are pretty good these days that your children know someone, perhaps someone quite close, that has suffered in this economy, and been helped by others. That’s the perfect foundation for teaching the ‘Giving Lesson’. As time marches toward the next birthday in your house, make sure your kids are aware of the generosity of others. Talk about what you do to help others, no matter how small a thing it is. Ask them, point blank, what they might be able to do to help others- get those wheels turning inside their heads. Even mention how they don’t really need, or often even want, all those birthday party gifts they get. And, of course, they will get birthday gifts from you and the family.

The older the child, the more success you’ll have with this approach. Preteens and teens, and older elementary school kids (ages 9 and 10) are good candidates.

The results might just surprise you, and turn your next birthday party into a charitable event. And that is a great way to give your kids the ‘Giving Lesson’, one of the best birthday gifts you can give to them.

Have any other ideas as to how to help kids decide on their own to use their birthday to help others? Please add them here in a comment for other parents.

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