Today it is a rarity when you open a door that a child does not rush on in ahead of you, pushing and shoving to get ahead of you. Children are no longer seen and not heard, in fact, many children feel that they deserve more than any adult around. Is this because kids are not taught to be grateful and to respect their elders?
Pish Posh Baby’s Parenting Expert, Julie McCaffrey wants to share with parents her favorite ways of teaching children about giving and thankfulness just in time for the holiday season. Her suggestions are listed below:
· Start a thankfulness family routine—start a family ritual of sharing things each family member is thankful for each day, possibly during dinner or before bedtime. Try to keep the emphasis off material things, such as, an X-Box or a toy they really like, instead focus on things like a playdate with a friend or cuddling with the family pet. Simply ask them one thing they are thankful for that day or week, and have a little discussion about why they are grateful. You could even start a family thankfulness journal where you document the things you’re thankful for. This is something that can be kept through the years and reflected upon.
· Volunteer at a food bank or shelter—collect canned foods or ask for donations to help fill the food bank. Asking people for change is also an easy way to get donations. Who isn’t willing to part with loose change in their pocket? Most soup kitchens are filled with volunteers on Thanksgiving, but not the remainder of the year, so consider volunteering after the holidays.
· Daily thank you postcard—during the month of November, have your kids write a special note on a postcard and send to someone you’re thankful for. This could be a grandparent, aunt, teacher, coach, pastor, friend, etc. Include a reason you are thankful for this person on the postcard and mail. Who wouldn’t love to receive a postcard like this in the mail?
· Sign the family up for a local charity run—“Turkey Trots” are races held across the U.S. on Thanksgiving. Most often they benefit local charities. Not only are these runs for a good cause, but they’re also a way to burn calories for you and energy for the kiddos. What a fun event to get your family involved in. Consider making it an annual tradition.
· Thanksgiving random acts of kindness—this takes a little work and forethought but such a worthy deed. First pick a few people your child would like to gift with an act of kindness. Then help your son or daughter decide what to give them. Add a special note and deliver. This could be a turkey for a family in need, a box with warm gloves and hats for a shelter, an invite to your house for Thanksgiving.
· Visit a retirement home and bring treats—many elderly people spend the holidays alone, especially if their families and kids live far away. Life can be very lonely living in a retirement home, amd the sadness of spending a holiday without friends and family can make it even worse. But there’s one thing most all older people love and that’s children! Bake cookies or put together a little gift bag and hand them out at your local retirement home. You’ll be making a holiday a bit brighter for the elderly and teaching your kids the importance of giving back
· “Caught You Being Thankful” Jar—take a different approach to teaching kids gratefulness simply by catching them in the act and noticing. When you witness your kids thanking a sibling for sharing a toy or saying thank you for dinner, reward them by putting a bean in a jar. When the jar is full, you’ll donate $5 (or any amount you choose) to your child’s favorite charity. This also creates a little healthy competition between siblings which can be a very positive thing and push kids to try a bit harder to show their thankfulness!
· Show off your model behavior—make sure you’re modeling the behavior you want your kids to learn. Watching you will help them to better understand this very important lesson. Let them witness you in small gestures such as taking a meal to a family who just had a baby, taking cookies to an elderly neighbor who doesn’t get out much, shoveling snow for a neighbor or sending cards to our Troops.
These tips come not only in time for Thanksgiving, but for Giving Tuesday, the day that is now designated for philanthropists of all ages. This day occurs on the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving.
If you teach your children by example, you will be pleasantly surprised when the outcome is notable. Find more great information from Pish Posh Baby by going to: http://www.pishposhbaby.com. Try these suggestions to find out. Happy Holidays from Julie McCaffrey, and the Examiner staff!