With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, it’s naturally time to start thinking about how to give back. While it’s important to teach your kids to be thankful, it’s also important to keep that going all year long. Especially with the impending holiday of gift giving, this is a great time to revisit why it’s important to give back to the community and to come up with lots of new ways for your children to be charitable and kind throughout the year. If you’ve never had this discussion with your kids, here are a few places to start and some ideas to get you going.
Make A List
The easiest place to start is by simply making a list. Sit down with your kids over a white board or even just some scratch paper and ask them to start thinking of ways they can give back. Make sure that every idea is valued and write each one down, that way the kids will feel included and be more willing to come up with additional ideas. As you come up with ideas, you can then start putting timelines to them, as you figure out which ideas you can take action on right away, and which ones you can use the rest of the year.
Being thankful is always an important quality to have, and this fun idea keeps the thankful feeling going on throughout the year. Simply make a thankful jar, then have your kids write down what they are thankful for and put it in the jar. It’s a great opportunity to open dialogue about being appreciative, and the kids will enjoy getting the time to write down what they feel to put in the jar. Of course, it’s also just as fun to decorate the jar!
There are so many great places that need volunteer help. From hospitals and libraries to homeless shelters and other charitable organizations, you’ll be teaching some truly valuable lessons to your children when you volunteer together. If you aren’t sure where to start, try checking out a site like VolunteerMatch, which allows you to search your area to find volunteer opportunities for you and your whole family.
The art of letter writing has sadly died out, but you can keep that going with your kids. Have your child write a hand-written thank you letter to a teacher or coach, or anyone that has had an important impact on his or her life. Explain why it’s so important to take the time to let them know how valuable their efforts have been, then actually mail the letter. It’s so rare to get a piece of mail like that now, and it’s a great way to give someone a surprise smile.
When your child’s birthday rolls around, he or she will be showered with gifts and attention, which is wonderful. But it’s also a great time to remember to be thankful, so use that day to make a list of what they are thankful for that year. Use their age to indicate how many things they are thankful for, so a seven-year-old will list out seven things and a 10 year-old will list out 10. Keep this tradition going every single year, and even include yourself in this, as thankfulness and gratitude are things that are important throughout your life.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.