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Christmas is a great time to teach children about giving. The act of giving is to present someone with something so that they can enjoy it, look at it or care for it.
What better time to teach children about giving than during the festive season?
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, and giving during the season is as natural as drinking sorrel and eating cake.
In fact, giving is so much part of the tradition of Christmas that there is a whole industry centred around it; but it is not just for Christmas and should not only be about gifts.
Yes, Christmas for many is a time for sharing. We tend to tap into our more generous side during the holiday season.
We become warmer and friendlier; offer cakes and sorrel to visitors who come to our house, and make room for the people we haven’t seen all year round, and some of us give our time to those who are in need.
But, what about when Christmas ends and the gifts have been exchanged? How can we ensure that children know that generosity lasts throughout the year?
We can use this opportunity during Christmas to teach them about giving through our behaviour and attitude during the festive season.
What Should Children Know About Giving?
Considering the ample opportunities to be generous during Christmas, here are three things parents can teach their children about giving this Christmas.
Giving Brings Happiness
Did you know that being generous makes you happier?
One research study found that children were happier giving gifts than receiving them. Moreover, the children in the study were happier giving away their treats rather than treats that were found and given to them by someone else (Aknin, Hamlin, & Dunn, 2012).
The Gift of Time
Volunteering or offering your time to help someone or an organisation is good for your well-being. Giving is not always about material things; people are also generous with their time and many people volunteer during Christmas. People have gained skills from donating their time to help people or a cause.
Research has shown the positive impact of volunteering on the well-being of adults. In one study, researchers found that volunteering had a positive impact on people’s physical and mental health.
Participants in the study who completed 100 hours of volunteering per year reported fewer health difficulties and lower levels of depression when compared to those who had not volunteered (Lum & Lightfoot, 2005).
Empathy a Predictor of Giving
Empathy is the ability to see and understand what someone else is feeling by putting yourself in that person’s situation. It has been shown that empathy increases the likelihood of people giving to charities.
Additionally, people with high empathetic concerns were more likely to give to multiple charities instead of one.
Since empathy is linked to kindness, it is easy to see how empathy can influence people’s generosity.
Giving in Action
As the festive season rolls on, what are some of the ways that we can teach children about the importance of giving? When Christmas is over, will we continue to model generosity for our children to follow?
Aknin, L. B., Hamlin, J. K., & Dunn, E. W. (2012). Giving Leads to Happiness in Young Children. PLoS ONE. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039211
Lum, T. Y., & Lightfoot, E. (2005). The Effects of Volunteering on the Physical and Mental Health of Older People. Research on Aging, 27(31). doi:10.1177/0164027504271349