While I enjoyed receiving gifts as much as the next kid, I also enjoyed the act of giving. I loved to see the reactions of my family members upon opening their carefully selected gifts. Their joy became my joy, and this feeling continues in me to this day.
Until now, I’d never given much thought to the joy I feel when giving to another. It’s a characteristic that I thought everyone shared, but a young relative of mine has proved me wrong.
This family member has been earning his own money for two years now. He’s been given everything he needs, and much of what he wants, but maybe that’s the problem. It appears we’ve spoiled him, so that now, at age 16, he still has no plans to spend any of his money on buying Christmas presents. He will not give, only receive.
I don’t know if it’s completely our fault, or if this upcoming generation is just focused on what can you do for me, instead of what can I do for you. Either way, a world full of ego-centric people just won’t do. So how can we instill selflessness and the spirit of giving in our children? Here are a few easy lessons we can teach them as they grow:
- It’s the thought that counts: Start when they’re small. Encourage your child to make gifts for relatives from an early age. Make it fun and stress to them how much each person is going to love and appreciate their gift.
- Community service: Have your child pick out a toy for you to purchase and give to needy children, or bake cookies together for sick children in the hospital.
- Dollars and cents: For older kids, either give them a set amount of money, or make them earn money by doing chores. Then make a list of family members and help them plan out what they are going to buy for each one.
- Lead by example: If your child sees you doing selfless acts for others, such as volunteering at a soup kitchen or visiting a nursing home, they will most likely follow in your footsteps.
As a preschool teacher, I’m frequently reminded that we are all born ego-centric. I break up fights everyday because each child believes they are the center of the universe, and that their wants and needs should always come first. This is normal for that age. However, the most important part of my job, and any parent’s job, is trying to get them out of this way of thinking, and teaching them that sharing and giving brings an inner satisfaction and happiness all its own.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.