How do you help your children develop a lifelong love of giving? We Grandmothers are certainly aware that today’s families live in times of “Hurry Up” – that mothers and fathers both work and have to deal with malls filled with gifts of every shape and color.
We recognize time is a precious commodity, so it’s often quicker and easier to suggest or even buy something for Aunt Mable during lunch hour, have it wrapped and then simply hand it to the child give it to her.
Your child’s psyche won’t be damaged for life by this practice. But whatever feelings your child has about this gift aren’t likely to foster a lifelong love of giving.
An alternative to going to mall or shopping online is to set aside time for her to make something. Two things will happen: Your child will value the time with you in ways you’ll never realize; and putting herself into the gift will make it all the more fun to give.
Resolve in advance that this is going to take time – so close the laptop and ignore the ringing smartphone. Decide that this will be the child’s gift and the more he or she puts into it the more valuable it will be.
A little help is invaluable, but try to resist the overpowering temptation to do it for her. Talking a little about who will get the gift can be fun.
“Daddy can never find his keys – what can we make that would help him?” A nail in a piece of decorated wood could hang by the back door.
“Grandpa is always reading – you could tell me a story, I’ll write it down and you can draw pictures on the cover.”
“Aunt Elizabeth loves flowers.” A wide-mouthed jar covered with masking tape and rubbed with shoe polish makes a very nice vase that looks like leather.
It’s almost impossible for a toddler to think about what another person likes, but making cookies together and packing them in small boxes; sticking cloves in oranges to be hung in closets; coloring a popsicle stick frame (before you put the photo in it) could all be done by your toddler with your help.
Preschoolers can set paperwhite bulbs in small dishes for early blooming, or plant a rooted sprig from your jade plant in a hand-painted terra cotta flowerpot.
The nicest cards can be made by ironing different bits of left-over crayons between two sheets of white shelf paper, peeling them apart and cutting the cooled shelf paper into squares – which can be glued to a folded sheet of paper.
Older relatives, or those who live in faraway places, will cherish recordings of children’s voices, or pictures of kids standing by things they’ve made such as a snowman or a tall block building.
Older children can make up a play, prepare a song to sing or write a poem.
Regardless of what you decide to do, please remember that your time with your child is valued. Most of the time your child’s gifts will be cherished and you will have been spared the angst of going from store to store, agonizing over what presents your child should give.
The the only one left on the list is you!
Image courtesy of Artfulparent.com