Have you ever seen a young child offer to share something and then cry when the person took them up on their offer? We may not cry when we give things to others, but sometimes there is a part of us that is calculating to make sure our generosity isn’t costing us too much.
Hopefully, we can train our children to give to others with open hands and open hearts. My friend Colleen recently shared with me a great activity she was doing with her son. She calls it the “Blessing Jar”.
I have a confession to make. I rarely ever make a recipe as written. Coming from a long line of “dump” cooks (who don’t measure at all), I am brave enough to experiment and come up with my own version of printed recipes. It’s no wonder, I tend to do the same with great ideas for teaching children.
I don’t really remember where I saw the original ideas (although Pinterest is always suspect!), but this combination of several might become a holiday tradition for your family. Call it the “Joy Challenge”.
Want to add a fun twist to your Thanksgiving celebration? Take a large jar and place beside it scraps of recycled paper and pens. Put the jar in a prominent place. Throughout the year, whenever someone is thankful for something, they write it on a slip of paper and throw it in the bowl. While you are waiting for that extra room to appear in your stomach so you can eat dessert Thanksgiving Day, pull out the bowl and start reading the slips.
Sometimes it is hard to remember to be thankful through your growling stomach. The chaos created just by getting everyone to the table may make people go blank if asked to share what they are grateful for this year. The jar not only reminds us of the things we are currently grateful for, but how much God has blessed us over the past year. The slips may bring back fun memories or help your family process the difficult times from the previous year.
Even if you have managed to banish the “gimmes” from your home, it doesn’t mean gratitude will automatically flood into your child. In some ways I think developing a constant “attitude of gratitude” is a lifelong process. Partially because it takes some life experiences to reinforce how much you really do have to be grateful for in your life. Or perhaps we just become too distracted with the annoyances of life to remember all of the things that are going “right”. Whatever the cause, parents can begin laying the groundwork for their children to become grateful.
Greedy children appear to concern a lot of people this time of year. It seems like everyone has a child with the “gimmes” especially during the holidays. In fact my daughter and I caught a segment where a “parenting expert” was counseling parents on how to “cure” their children. Her main advice was for parents to tell their children it was a recession and they couldn’t afford much.
My daughter snorted, “Then they’ll just wait until the economy is better and expect double presents!” She is right. There are a lot of ways to help your child take the focus off of what they can get, but giving them partial or incorrect information is not the best plan.
Our daughter is incredibly responsible with money and always has a very reasonable and short “wish list”. In fact, she rarely has more than two or three items on her entire Christmas list. As my daughter and I discussed what we had done to help her grow her attitudes towards material things, I realized there were some easy things anyone could do with their children.