Sunday, March 6, 2011

When You Give, You Get

 These days in a world of wants where material things are flashed on every TV, every magazine, every billboard and all over the computer, it is difficult to teach our children to be grateful for what we have. As adults, we are faced with the same challenges. It is difficult to put our wants aside and decide that are needs are enough and that we don't need to have everything that our neighbor has. I am guilty of the wants but when I really stop and think about whether I REALLY want it, I can honestly say no. It is a wanting impulse which is momentary and only gives me a passing good feeling . Usually it is replaced with guilt because I don't really need another pair of shoes or another purse or another jacket. So, what is that teaching my children? I can't ask them to be grateful for what they have, if I am always wanting more too.  It has to be a conscious effort on my part to be aware of my actions and model for them what is truly important and the value of "things". I also need to be honest with them about my own difficulties with this challenge. Show them that we are human.  And let me tell you, I LOVE shoes. I don't spend a lot of money them individually but I just love em.
Here are some ways to teach your child about giving:

When you give , you get... Help your child identify with their feelings and emotions when they practice giving.
          It's win-win emotionally. When you give to others, it makes you feel good.

When you get, be grateful... When your child is a recipient of a gift or gesture, teach them what it means to
         be grateful for the things they get or when someone is kind to them. Help them identify with how
         that makes them feel. This will help them have compassion for others they are helping.

Do unto others... Teach your children the old saying, "do unto others as you would want done unto you."
         Treat others the way you want to be treated. Teach them how to walk in someone else's shoes. This
         teaches them empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Help them identify
         with their own feelings when they are mad, sad or happy.

What's going to work? Teamwork.. Creating a team of givers makes the act of giving more fun and
         rewarding when they can share it with others. Gather your family or have them lead a gaggle of their
         friends to do some community service.
Every little bit counts... No matter how small the act of giving is, it makes a difference. Helping someone
          pick something up or taking out the garbage still has an impact and is the act of giving of yourself.
          Teach your child that we don't always get recognized for our acts of giving but it is still important.
          Sometimes it is most effective when we anonymously give to another. It is a difficult thing to do but
          but what a powerful secret.

Be the example...As a parent, it is important for you to role model for your children the act of giving no
         matter how big or small.  Express your own emotions and feelings in certain situations like when you
         are mad or sad or excited. Point out times when you are giving of yourself. Find an activity that  your
         whole family can participate in together that involves the act of giving like adopting a family, going
         to a food kitchen, helping someone elderly or helping each other clean up the yard in the Spring.

The act of giving of yourself, sacrificing, is a powerful character builder. It helps us feel compassion, empathy and gratefulness. Give of yourself "Just Because".

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