‘Tis the Season for Giving: Teaching Your Toddler to Give

As my 2 year old is getting into the Christmas spirit, the season offers an opportunity for me to teach her an important lesson about charity. While she is thinking of what she would like to receive for Christmas, which at her age is quite simple – she asked Santa for a lollipop – I also want to get her thinking about what she can give to others. She is still a little young to truly understand that other children may not have much, but she’s not too young to start giving.

I was pleased this year to see that my daughter’s daycare was coordinating a Toys for Tots drive, which gave me the perfect opportunity to start talking to her about giving toys to other children who may not have toys for Christmas. While I don’t think she fully realized what she was doing for another child, she was very excited to participate and so a seed was planted.

I wish I’d had more time before we left on our holiday trip, because I would have liked to do more this year but our giving doesn’t have to stop at Christmas. When we return home, we’ll plan to draw from the list of ideas below. These ideas offer children a chance to be involved in charity in a way that is tangible enough to them to start instilling the idea of giving of themselves:

Donate to an organization your child can relate to

  • Around the holidays, Toys for Tots runs a national campaign to gather new, unwrapped toys to give to children at Christmas. Generally, you can find other organizations locally that also collect toys, food, or clothing for children and families in need. Involve your child in the shopping and delivery of the items.
  • If your child loves animals, contact your local Humane Society and see how you can help. Perhaps you can donate a bag of food.

Give locally - Giving locally offers your child a chance to see the recipient of their donations and make giving a little more real for them.

  • Contact the pediatrics department at your local hospital or check with local public schools/pre-schools or shelters to see if they could use your gently-used books and/or toys.
  • Bake bread or cookies to take to a local shelter or a nursing home.
  • Build a food basket to deliver to a family in need, whether it is a neighbor with a sick family member who could use one less thing to worry about or perhaps someone struggling financially to make ends meet. You can deliver the meal in person or anonymously. I have memories of my family delivering meals on occasion, with an envelope of cash, to families we knew were in need – leaving it on their doorstep anonymously.

Participate in fundraisers

  • Participate in a family run/walk event that benefits charity. Take the time in advance to talk to your child about why you are participating and who will benefit because of your participation.

Clean up around the house

  • Clean out your child’s closet together and identify gently worn clothes that no longer fit. Go through your child’s toys together and identify toys that they would be willing to donate. Donate them to your local thrift store or other organization taking collections.

What ways have you involved your children in charitable giving? We’d love to hear your ideas!


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