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Teaching Our Children to be Cheerful Givers

Aug 17, 2008
Have you ever tried telling your child they had to give away one of their favorite toys? If your child is like most, chances are, it didn't go over very well. Maybe there was even a lot of crying, screaming and tantrum throwing involved.

Giving is not something that comes easily to a child. Hey, it doesn't even come easily for adults! We tend to want to hang onto our stuff. After all, we've worked hard for that stuff. It's ours! Why work so hard if we're just going to turn around and give it away?

As adults, though, we know what God's Word says about giving. We know about the principle of tithing and know the blessings that come with giving above and beyond our tithes. We understand that there are other people who need our stuff more than we do and by giving it away, we are honoring God by helping His people. It still isn't always easy, but at least we "get it."

Kids, on the other hand, have to be taught how to give. And, of course, that is left up to us as their parents. So what can we do to teach our children to be cheerful givers?

* Set an example. If I complain every time I write out the check to church for our tithe, or express frustration at having offered to cook a meal for a neighborhood family, why should I expect my kids to gladly give their time or money to someone in need? Kids only become what their parents are. Scary thought, but one that really makes me consider the example I'm setting.

* Toy exchange. When your children receive a toy as a gift, why not make them give away one they already have? Not only will this keep the clutter to a minimum, but it will make them more aware of the toys they do have and allow them to choose something specific they decide they can do without and give it to another child who doesn't have as much.

* Involve them in Gift Shopping. Whenever you shop for gifts, bring along the kids! Allow them to be a part of selecting the perfect present. They may whine a bit, particularly when shopping for a toy. But don't give in and buy them one, too. It's important for kids to understand what it means to shop for someone else. Also enlist their help when wrapping the gift to give them an overall sense of the entire gift giving process.

* Serve. Have the kids make a special craft then drive to the nearest nursing home and let them present their gift to an elderly resident. Or let them help you bake a cake or pie to bring to a single mom you know. This will show your kids, firsthand, what it means to be a blessing.

* The first tenth. When my kids receive their monthly allowance or a monetary gift for their birthdays, the first thing we do is put aside ten percent for church, ten percent to put away in a special savings account, and the rest is then theirs to spend. By honoring God with the first ten percent and wisely saving for the future with another ten, we are teaching them a principle they'll hopefully carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Teaching our children to be cheerful givers doesn't happen overnight. But by continuing to look for ways we can set examples and involve them in various giving experiences, we'll soon see them giving on their own and not only at our insistence.
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