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Mentoring A Child On Giving
Parents love to give their children gifts. The expression on their child's face, the enthusiasm over the gift and the appreciation all make for a pleased and happy parent. When we give, we teach our children the value of giving from the heart.
However, many times we tend to give without considering the affect it may have on a child's view of charity. As parents we provide our children the things that they need. Many times, it is as gifts given during special times such as birthdays, holidays and significant milestones. What we must remember is how the attitude and purpose behind the giving affects the child.
If we consistently provide our children the things they need and do not consider how they value the effort or cost, then we fail to mentor our children in the gift of charity. Granted, at times a gift should be simply a gift, but if we are to build character into a child, parents must weigh how certain gifts contribute to the child's perspective of giving and mentor them through the process of giving.
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How Giving Benefits A Child
Physical needs of the receiver are met: A gift of physical meaning and purpose will help the child to fill a specific desire or build to the value of giving based upon a certain need. For instance, a comforter for their bedroom, which was a desired child's gift, indicates loving warmth. Defining the act will help them to understand the virtue of giving from the heart.
Spiritual needs of giver and receiver are realized: A gift can help both parties to understand the concept of giving based upon faith. Giving is an act that indicates selfless love and one that tells a child that his desires and wants are important in completing the commandments given according to his or her beliefs. In the Christian faith, as in other faiths, the act of giving not only benefits the receiver but the giver, "they lavish gifts on the poor -- a generosity that goes on, and on, and on. An honored life! A beautiful life! . . . (Psalm 112: 7-10, MSG). Giving helps a child to consider others needs, to know the act of caring and empathy.
Relationships are built through the act of giving: If a child receives an item meaningfully connected to family history, parents should convey this as they give so that the child understands the significance of the gift. It will help them connect the importance of family in life. Additionally, giving will reinforce a link between the child and the giver which will strengthen as the years pass.
It will transforms lives: There are many lives changed today because of the unselfish, heart-motivated gift of love. A gift given without any ties or expectations of return from the receiver speaks volumes to a child. As an adult you can role model this in giving and watch how your child will want to do likewise. The result of experiencing "thankfulness" from another is so priceless!
Teaching The Virtue Of Charity/Giving
Methods of Giving
There are various methods you can use to instill the act of giving or charity in a child. The act of giving is an abstract concept not easily defined with words when speaking to a child. Thus, the actual act will define it in "terms" they can understand. Remember that giving can be as simple as a smile, kind word or random deed to others. Also, catch those special moments when they freely give like this and express how much it meant to the receptor. Giving from the heart can fill an emotional, spiritual or physical need of another person and will only help to build character in both the giver and receiver.
The cost is not important but having a child use a portion of their allowance to purchase a small gift is very meaningful to the receiver, but above this it will enrich the child's attitude and view of giving a portion from their abundance to help someone else.
Another method is to have your children help you pick out gifts to give to someone in need. For example, we set aside a day this year to enlist the help of our grandchildren in picking out school supplies for needy children. They enjoyed helping fill a shopping basket with basic school supplies, fulfillnig another child's needs . They later spent the afternoon packing a bag, wrapping small gifts and filling out a card to the receiver of the package. It was something that gave them much joy and instilled a sense of charity in their character.
Here are some items they packed in the bag:
- erasers (regular and novelty)
- small notebook
- washable markers
- child's scissors
- pencil sharpener
- small toys: car, doll, ball, bubbles
I know many parents who have their children help bake cookies, make crafts, or simple gifts during the holiday season to give to others in need. Some families take time to visit nursing homes and have children sing songs, read books or just chat with the the residents. The receiver is richly blessed by this simple act of charity (love).
Teaching your child that giving is a virtue will build long-lasting life values that will not only make a difference in your child's life but will transform others as well. Have you a special way of teaching your child the act of giving? Please mention them in the comments below so that others can benefit from your experience.