As November slips by, many of us have been occupied by autumnal activities — hunting down pumpkin spiced treats of all sorts, cozying up with extra layers of clothing, and cheering on a new season of fall sports. It’s also the beginning of the holidays with celebrations that are largely centered on giving, making this a great time to think about becoming a “Philanthro-Parent.” Whether you are a parent, teacher, neighbor, friend or relative, you can encourage the kids in your life to change the world for good and inspire them to give back in their own meaningful way.
And it’s not just about doing good during the holidays either. There are huge benefits for children who engage in acts of kindness that make generosity a valuable year-round pursuit. In addition to being healthier and living longer, researchers have demonstrated that kids who volunteer and “do good” have improved friendships and self-esteem, and perform better in school.
So how can you help the children in your life embrace the gift of giving? Here are three ways to make your season even brighter for you and your up-and-coming philanthropist.
Give better gifts
I’ll confess that if it weren’t for online shopping my niece and nephews would never see a box with an Auntie Louise tag. For many of us, there isn’t much time to run around to take care of gift wish lists, especially during the busy holiday season. But like with many things in life, we should take the time to slow down with our gift hunting. Let’s take an extra minute to make some of our purchases give back by using AmazonSmile (Amazon donates 0.5% of the eligible purchases to a charity of your choice). Let’s scour the wrappers for a fair trade label on that chocolate treat for our little snackers. Let’s do a couple more Google searches to find gifts that give back. It won’t be time wasted and we’ll feel even better once the wrapping paper starts flying.
A lot of us take advantage of this season to donate gently used coats and cold weather gear as we replace clothes for our ever-growing kids, or to do a clean sweep of the toy box once presents are opened. Perhaps this year we can go one step further and encourage our child to choose one of their new toys or presents to donate. Or perhaps we can help our kids dream up ways to use their presents to benefit others, like using the new art set to create a poster for a fundraiser. We can tap into the power of choice that can actually enhance our kids’ altruistic endeavors with this twist on giving around the holidays.
Be a gift
Many of us learn better by doing, and it appears this is also true for giving back. Studies indicate that volunteering at a young age can create lifelong social and civic engagement in our kids. So, to help get you started, here’s volunteering ideas for kids from PBS, a list of thousands of children volunteer opportunities from Volunteer Match, a link to find your local food bank from Feeding America and a truly thoughtful curation of “40 Ways Kids Can Volunteer from Toddler to Teen” from author Laura Grace Weldon.
This holiday season, together with our kids, let’s make our gifts give more, share more deeply and be a blessing to others. We’d love to hear about your thoughts; please share your ideas on Twitter using #KidsGivingBack. Before I wish you Happy Holidays, I’ll let the infectiously joyful Kid President remind us that “The perfect gift is the something that makes the world better.”