Teaching Children Generosity: Getting and Giving During the Holidays

A woman and children making a gingerbread house

There are an infinite numbers of toys, games, and treats in today’s world, and gift getting sometimes takes center stage during the holidays. How can we change this mindset and raise caring and generous children who know the importance of giving rather than getting? How do we avoid over spoiling our kids during the holidays? Here are some tips on how we can teach our children to moderate their wants, be thankful for what they have, and give to others.

Tips to Maximize Joy and Gratitude During the Holidays

One way to help children understand the importance of giving and gratitude during the holiday season is to teach them about moderation whenever possible.

  • Actively teach your children as they mature that media advertising is trying to shape our thinking to want more and more.
  • Make quality family time the major holiday focus. Bake cookies, read books together, or play games. Start or continue beloved traditions.
  • As a family, model restraint and sharing with others through programs here and in other countries. If you don’t have a favorite charitable organization, consider The Bright Horizons Foundation for Children. The Bright Spaces program creates play spaces for children who live in homeless shelters.

Teaching Kids to Give Back during the Holidays

"Its better to give than to receive" is an old adage that we’ve all heard. A study by the American Psychological Association suggests that giving to others increases life expectancy by at least 5 years. A stretch? Maybe. But if you and your child shovel the snow from your elderly neighbors sidewalk this winter, you may be doing yourself, your child, and your neighbor a favor.

Young children can learn to give back during the holiday season by giving a kind word, offering a smile, sharing a toy, drawing a picture, writing or dictating a note, or cheering up a lonely friend or family member. 

Here are some additional family giving ideas for helping and giving to others that you can do with your child during the holiday season and at any time of the year:

  • Collect clothing or personal items and donate them to a local shelter for the homeless.
  • Make favors, scrapbooks, napkin rings, or crafts for a special occasion to donate to a local children’s hospital.
  • "Adopt" a senior citizen and help them with necessary chores or visit an elder care home.
  • Collect food for local food banks.
  • "Adopt" a service person stationed overseas, collect items and send them a gift box.
  • Make toys, games, or crafts for a child care center or pediatric unit of a hospital.

Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands
A woman and children making a gingerbread house