5 Ways to Teach Toddlers to Give This Holiday Season
Watching them run down the stairs to a room full of gifts, a sweet, tender infant crawling (or swimming!) in a sea of wrapping paper, all while sitting on the couch with a cup of hot chocolate enjoying the fruits of your labor—as a mother, it’s a vision I look forward to all year long. Those moments of pure happiness from receiving whatever their hearts desired is truly a gift for many of us. However, while maybe difficult in the moment, teaching your toddler to give during the holidays will be a gift that you’ll appreciate later in life. Here are five simple ways to teach toddlers to give this holiday season.
1. Give What You’ve Got: A ‘la Toy Story 3, Second Chance Toys is a special charitable organization that rescues, cleans and redistributes gently used plastic toys to children in need. Started by then a high school student, Sasha Lipton, who was tired of seeing beautiful plastic toys on the curb on garbage day, she began collecting them one at a time with her mom. Soon, she filled her basement with them! She cleaned them off and donated them to local churches, food pantries, and children’s organizations. Use one of our favorite Disney movies as inspiration, wipe down those old plastic toys and give them a new life for a new kid.
2. Make It Real: Don’t invade anyone’s privacy, but the more “real” you can make the experience for your toddler, the better received the idea will be. The first year we focused on giving in our parenting, I told my 2-year-old daughter that we would be “giving to charity” this holiday season. Her little toddler mind translated it into a real person, telling me that she “loved Charity so much” and wanted her to have these special gifts. My heart melted and I ran with it. Giving stuff away is a very abstract idea to toddlers, so giving them a vision of where their old toys are going will help them process it.
3. Be Casual About It: I plan out many lessons and purposefully expose my children to certain values. But the ones they seem to best inherit are the ones I’m casually implementing—reading at bedtime, washing hands, saying “please” and “thank you.” If you really want your toddlers to be charitable, just do it—casually! While shopping this holiday season, pick up a small toy and throw it in the donation basket on your way out. Talk about charity as if its part of your daily errands. No big deal, you’re mama, making the world a better place—it’s what you do on any given day!
4. Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: This year, we’re making a weekly affair of going through our toys to donate. Perhaps every day you can give prayer or positive thoughts out to those who need them. The more often you give (and use the words give, donate, charity) the more normal the act will seem to your toddler.
5. Give to Those Who Have, Too: Indeed, those who don’t have should be thought of and donated to this holiday season. But I don’t want my children to grow up thinking that living in abundance is bad and not deserving of generosity, too. Even those with financial security still need something. Maybe a new mom needs help cooking, visit the elderly who might not have family, make and give treats to the kids at school. Focus on giving for the sake of being a generous person, and not because of the need.
The focus on charity is heavy during the holiday season, but raising generous toddlers shouldn’t be. The heart of a generous person is happier because they believe that they can make a difference. And a happy toddler grown into a happy adult is the best gift any parent can ask for.
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