The months leading up to Christmas this year left me wondering where I had gone wrong. My little girl said “I want one of those” to just about every toy she saw whether is was on television, in the store or in the hands of her playmate. Had I done this? I began to wonder if I was teaching her the wrong things and if I needed to shift my own priorities.
The more I thought about it the more I realized it wasn’t me. You will rarely hear me ask for anything other than the usual things a woman needs. I don’t ask for jewelry or extensive clothes shopping sprees, I’m pretty low maintenance in that regard.
So where did she pick up this kind of behavior? I’m still not sure but I think its may just be innocent human nature. I realized she’s not seen much of the world and has no idea there are others who would give anything for three square meals a day let alone a Dora Talking House. She just simply doesn’t know. Now I know it’s my job to teach her.
I had been trying to teach her about giving in small ways leading up to this time but I decided I needed to do more. There are things I have already started and things I will do as she ages and gets a bit worldlier. I have confidence that she’ll catch on rather quickly.
How Many Toys Do You Need?
My little girl is spoiled. Not by me so much but by the rest of my family. I guess this isn’t out of the ordinary but at times it goes way too far. She has a rather large bedroom and it was filled to the brim with toys and she had her birthday and Christmas both yet to come in the month of December.
I didn’t know what to do when I thought of all the toys she was going to get. Finally I made a decision that took her quite a while to accept. I told her she needed to get rid of some of her toys or she wasn’t getting any new ones. She looked at me as if I had just run over a puppy with my car but I stood firm.
I explained to her that there were little boys and girls that have a lot of toys and some that only had a few. She pondered this for a moment and asked me “why”. It’s hard to explain economics to a child but I did my best to explain that some families struggle harder than others and sometimes mommies and daddies can’t afford toys.
It took a few weeks but she slowly came to terms with letting go of some of her toys. I produced a large box and she filled it up with toys she was going to give away. I was very proud of her. Now I’ll admit I haven’t gotten those toys where they need to go yet but I will soon.
Helping the Animals
My daughter is intrigued with animals of all sorts. The highlights of our walks together are usually the squirrels she sees and the tiny dogs down the street. I saw this as an opportunity to teach her about giving.
We were planning a trip to the see the Wiggles live and I knew a part of the show consists of the children giving bones to the dog character Wags. I know the Wiggles try to donate the bones to shelters and I contacted HIT Entertainment to see if we could take the bones collected at the concert we were attending.
We waited a few minutes after the show and I was given a nice sized bag of bones. Not wanting to shatter the illusion for my daughter I explained that Wags couldn’t possibly eat all the bones given to him and he wanted to share with other dogs that weren’t as lucky as he. A few weeks later we made a trip with the bones to our local shelter. Ever since she’s been excited about helping the animals. We even leave collected acorns on our steps for the neighborhood squirrels.
Every Little Bit Helps
Every year around Christmas the little red buckets for the Salvation Army pop up near various retailers. I try to put something in every time I see one. I was hoping this would rub off on my little girl. Much to my delight she insisted she “give her money to the bucket people”. She dug some out of her piggy bank just for that purpose.
When she gets older I want to encourage her to keep on giving. When she starts getting allowance I will teach her to save half for her future, save a little to give to charity and have a little to spend on herself. I will ask her to choose whatever charity she wants and match what she manages to save.
Though she’s too young now to understand, at some point in the future I hope to teach her that giving of her time can be just as powerful as giving out of her allowance. Many charities need volunteers to collect donations, sort through clothes or even serve food.
I also want to teach her that many people in her own backyard need help. It may be something as simple as shoveling an elderly neighbor’s walkway or picking up trash left along the sidewalk. Every little act of kindness can touch someone and there may be no better feeling in the world than that. I want so much to give her that feeling.