Give before getting

How, when and what kids should give to make the world a better place.

By Tina O'Shea

Managing Editor at LeapFrog

Tina O’Shea is LeapFrog’s Managing Editor and the voice of @LeapFrog on Twitter, but to her kids, she’s the Freeze Dance DJ.

Receiving gifts is a big part of what makes birthdays and holidays exciting for kids. But it’s also the perfect time to encourage children to think about how good it feels to give. Take advantage of the season or occasion to discuss the many ways to give, both during the holidays and throughout the year.

Tips for teaching kids to give

Giving is a habit that can be established at a very early age, but it does need to be taught. Here are a few ways to teach kids about charity:

  • Give before getting: Before new toys come into the house for birthdays and holidays, require children to pack up toys and books they've outgrown. Make sure your child comes with you for the donation, and talk about how his donation will be used to help those less fortunate.
  • Make it a habit: All year long, require allowance, earnings, and cash gifts to be split between saving, spending and donation jars (bonus: this helps kids learn about managing money as well as giving).
  • Act locally: Look for small causes in your community that will make giving tangible. Does the kindergarten class need art supplies? Does the animal shelter need new chew toys? Then hold a fundraiser. Simple fundraisers like garage sales or lemonade stands help kids feel involved, and they’ll literally have their results in-hand for giving to their cause.
  • Give a birthday wish: Suggest kids request donations in lieu of birthday gifts. Make the request in your child’s party invitation, and set out a simple donation basket at the party. Or, set up an online birthday wish.
  • Make it personal: When it’s time to donate, have kids write a letter to send with their contribution—this helps them connect what they’re doing with why they’re doing it. The warm fuzzy feeling will be even better than opening a present.