As parents, our biggest responsibility is to teach our children the values we consider good for them and their future. Whether this means teaching them to help others or to take care of themselves, it’s important for them to understand how to approach different situations in life and react accordingly. One important value to teach your kids is selflessness and the act of mindful giving. To focus on others when they are whole within themselves and not feel like giving to others is a task.
Teach by example
As with everything in our lives, we can’t expect others to learn from us if we don’t practice what we preach. A child will do as they see us doing, so if we are giving them and all of their siblings the same gift, we aren’t teaching them about the practice of considering the person you are giving the gift to. Make sure you yourself are mindful, so that you can teach it to your kids. If you think that they are doing something wrong, you can correct them, but keep in mind that just because they’re not doing something the way you want them to, it doesn’t mean that they’re doing it wrong – it might just be their own way of doing it.
Everyone in this world is different, and it’s important to remember that when getting a gift. Sometimes, we will find ourselves in a situation when we need to buy a gift for a person we don’t know that well, but rather than buying a generic gift that could fit anyone, do your best to find out what that person’s interests are, whether it means asking a mutual friend or a family member, or looking through their Facebook page. Your kids will easily understand this when you put in the terms of how they differ from their siblings or friends from class. Ask them to imagine how they would feel if they got the same present for their birthday as their sibling, who has completely different interests compared to them.
Give outside of occasions
We all have some set dates when we’re “supposed to” give gifts to others. Whether it’s birthdays, Christmas or the first day of school, these shouldn’t be the only times for gifting. Let your kids choose a couple of unique Father’s Day gifts and save a few for random days when they just feel like giving their dad something special to show how much they love him. Once again, lead by example and give your kids small presents when they aren’t at all expecting them, just to show them some love.
Things can be great, but not as great or nearly as valuable as your time. Create memories with the person you are gifting by taking them out to a movie, dinner, or simply a walk around the park. In ten years, they will remember that walk, after the watch stops ticking and the tie is stained in the back of the closet. Sentimental things are great because they give you a tangible object to keep the memory, and they are very useful. Nevertheless, if you do decide to gift an object, at least make it something that has a lot of meaning or something that you can use together and create memories with. When talking about children, this can be taking them out to a fun day at the zoo, and then getting them a small toy from the zoo as a keepsake. Or, getting them a family board game, so you can spend an evening playing together.
Put effort in it
Anyone can pay for a gift and have it be absolutely amazing, but it won’t be nearly as valuable as something you’ve made an effort to create. A diner in a Michelin star restaurant might taste great, but you know that the person would appreciate it so much more if you made the meal for them, even if you’re not such a great cook.
Make an effort to make items from scratch, personalize them or simply organize something just for their sake. Teach your kids that those gifts are valuable by displaying them when they give them to you. They gave you a macaroni necklace? Wear it the next day, even if it’s only until you get to the office. When they are supposed to get a gift for a friend, don’t offer to give them money to buy something, but rather challenge them to make something from the items in the house, or offer to take them to the crafts store and get them the supplies they need.
Teaching mindfulness and mindful giving is as important as any step in parenting. It will make sure that your kids know the real value of gifts and the right way to go about giving and receiving them.
- Isabel Williams