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5 Easy Activities for Your Family to Practice the Art of Giving

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By Lee Scott

Contributing Writer and Goddard School Educational Advisory Board Member

Sharing and giving are an important part of learning, and the holiday season is the perfect opportunity to help your children develop these important skills.

Gift-giving creates a happy feeling not just for the receiver but also for the giver. Children are in fact happier when they give back. Researchers at the University of British Columbia* interacted with children using puppets, which would make ‘YUMM’ noises when given treats. The results indicated that children were happier when giving the treats away than when receiving treats for themselves.

Here are five easy activities for your family to practice the art of giving:

  1. Give a Gift That Keeps on Giving – Make a “Giving Book” with your children. Think of five things they would enjoy doing for someone at home or for a neighbor or a relative. Write or draw the things on three-by-five index cards, decorate the cards and staple them together. Present the “Giving Book” to the relative. This is a gift that keeps on giving and extends the fun beyond the holidays. It also gives your children confidence in the things can they do for someone else.
  1. Build a Plan for Giving – Ask your children how they would like to give back. You may be surprised at what they come up with. Implementing their ideas will help build their confidence and commitment to the activity. Decide together on how to accomplish their ideas.
  1. No Money Needed – It is important to have children experience how to give beyond buying a gift. Donating time and effort is just as important. This will help your children in daily interactions with others. Many foundations have projects that are designed just for kids. Your children could make artwork for a local children’s hospital or help plant trees for a nature reserve. Whatever your child’s passion is, connect it to giving back.
  1. Donate Your Joy – Ask your children to select gently used clothes, toys and other things around their room that they could donate to others. You can choose the charity together. Take your children with you to donate the goods so they can see where they will go. Talk about who might receive them.
  1. Checking In about Feelings After your children spend time giving back, ask them how they feel. Most likely they will have a positive response and want to do it again. Conversations about giving help young children make the connection of that good feeling to giving back.

*Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K. & Dunn, E. W. (2012, June 14). Giving leads to happiness in young children. PLOS ONE 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0039211