It’s the season of giving, but unfortunately, many children (and adults too) think of the holidays as the season of getting. It’s important to teach gratitude and instill a spirit of giving in your child – a lesson you hope to convey the whole year through. At the holidays, it’s especially important to find ways to balance all that getting with ways to give back.
The thing about helping others is it helps us too. For children with complex learning differences who struggle with low self-esteem, giving back to others is a way they can feel good about themselves. Instead of always being the ones who need help, they can use their talents and time to assist in the community or provide clothing or toys to families who don’t have as much. It’s also a way for children to engage in the world, think of themselves as a good citizen, and realize they can make a difference.
You can begin with a few simple activities, and then integrate more involved traditions into the holiday season. Here are a few examples:
- Your child can make homemade cards or crafts for teachers, your postal worker, babysitters and relatives.
- Start a holiday good deed jar. Put a quarter or a dime in the jar when anyone does something nice for someone else. Then after a few weeks, deliver the money to a local food bank or shelter.
- Choose a child’s name off of a Giving Tree. Let your child purchase an item with his/her own allowance or birthday money and let them wrap the gift. Local hospitals, retailers and family shelters will accept gifts for the children they serve.
- Help your child research charities and then request that one gift they receive this year is a donation to that charity. A “certificate” or card describing the donation can be wrapped for the child to open with the other gifts.
- Volunteer as a family at a local nursing home, animal shelter or other organization.
- Adopt a family through a children’s organization and have everyone in your family contribute to making your adopted family have the best holiday ever.
What are your favorite ways of teaching your child gratitude and giving back during the holidays?
Anna Johnson, Head of School at The Wolf School, is a devoted, passionate educator with more than 17 years of classroom and leadership experience. She holds a BA and MAT from Brown University, and speaks locally and nationally on topics related to Complex Learners.