Teach Your Children the Art of Giving

Eight Great Nuggets of Wisdom on Giving

Show your children how to choose suitable presents to express what they think or feel about a person or occasion. Here are eight great nuggets of wisdom on giving.

May no gift be too small to give,
nor too simple to receive,
which is wrapped in thoughtfulness,
and tied with love.
~ L.O. Baird

santa011. Get your child to understand his motivations about giving. Every child, no matter, how young, can be taught how and why he gives a present. Gifts are oftentimes merely an outward expression of what one thinks and feels.

Some gifts represent more directly than others a person’s hopes for the recipient. For example, a child is wishing her grandmother longevity when she gives him a thousand cranes formed out of origami paper. Whilst other gifts, such as oddly shaped, handmade cookies, may not be the perfect symbol of a thought or idea, they will more than aptly encapsulate one’s care and concern.

2. Help your child learn about humility through giving. Create opportunities for your child to say thanks to those who have helped him –family members, friends, teachers, even the domestic helper. In the process, he will be reminded that others have contributed to his success and growth.

santa033. Come alongside; show your child how to comfort others.  If your teenage son tells you that a friend is ill and in hospital, he may be feeling rather lost and helpless. Go out with him to pick a present for the friend. It may be a book, comic or a music compact disc –whatever your son decides. In considering what to give, your son develops empathy. He asks, “What does my friend like? What does he need? What’s important to my friend, now?”

4. Encourage your child to give even when it is difficult to. If your child is distributing packets of candy to all, but is reluctant to give it to a particular classmate, find out why so that the real issues can be dealt with.

At times we give even while we may not feel warm and fuzzy about giving to a particular recipient. Nonetheless, giving in this situation provides the opportunity for your child to learn about how to manage situations and people’s feelings.

santa075. Teach your child to be generous, but within budget. Essentially, you want your child to learn that giving is not a work-out at the shopping mall, but a way to exercise one’s will and determination to wish another person well; to provide physically in some way; or to simply show a loved one that he is valued.

To keep within budget, try to buy items in bulk during festive seasons, but add a little something special to customise the present. For example, it is alright for your child to give all his cousins the same simple spiral bound notebook, just remember to jazz it up by including stickers bearing each recipient’s name. This can be easily done with the use of a computer and printer at home.

6. Look for ways to turn something simple into something special. Look out for clues on what makes an appropriate present. For example, observe what a relative likes to drink and take it up a notch when you choose a present for him. If Uncle Maniam likes a certain blend of tea in the morning, help your child pick up a premium pack of that blend. It usually costs only a few dollars more.

santa087. Urge your child to give to those who need it more. When giving to charitable causes, ensure that your child contributes items which are in good condition and not meant for the rubbish dump. Alternatively, get her to set aside some funds from her allowance to buy something suitable for the poor. Help her to see the privileged position she is in. Teach her to be thankful and willing to share with the less fortunate.

8. Be a role model to your child in the art of giving. By observing how you give and receive, your child is perhaps gaining a better understanding of the value of money; and the pricelessness of kinship and friendship. As such, presents given or exchanged are to strengthen ties and not create a sense of obligation.

For example, in Chinese families, it is common to give jewelry to an infant on his Full-month celebrations. However, it is just as nice to receive sets of clothes or a homemade Bean Sprout Pillow. It is believed that such pillows which are filled with dried bean kernels or husks tend to shape around the baby’s body and make him feel more secure. Personal gifts such as those are priceless.

About the Author: The Dads for Life Resource Team comprises local content writers and experts, including psychologists, counsellors, educators and social service professionals, dedicated to developing useful resources for dads.

First published on 16-01-2012