Generosity: The liberality or willingness in giving; unselfishness. Being thoughtful of the needs of others
"Generosity is giving more than you can, and pride is taking less than you need."–Khalil Gibran
Generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.
What is it that makes a person thankful and why is it that we often only acknowledge our appreciation for what is important in our lives around the holidays? While it's true that we shouldn't only be thankful at the end of the year, it's actually a very good time to talk to your children about the concept and why it is so important.
Set a good example
You are your child's first and best role model. If she sees you engaging in generous behavior, she'll want to do the same thing. So if you are buying food for a local food drive or donating clothing to a church, let your child know what you are doing and why. You aren't showing off or patting yourself on the back; you are demonstrating generosity in action.
Let her help
If her preschool is holding a toy drive, let her come with you to pick out the toy and wrap it. Explain why toys are being collected and why it is important that you help. Don't ask her to donate her own money, but if she volunteers, accept with great praise. If she has a lot of toys lying around that she no longer plays with that are in good shape, consider approaching her about donating them to a needy family or local preschool or day care center.
Put things in perspective
Naturally self-centered creatures, preschoolers find it difficult to grasp that there is a big world and it isn't orbiting around them. Do your best to explain that, just like he does, people everywhere have different things that they need. Without being too heavy-handed, talk about how some people need warm food to eat and clothes to wear and how it is very nice when other people help out by buying these types of things.
Start off small
By simply teaching your child to share or better get along with his siblings, your child will have a better unterstanding of generosity. Learning to be considerate of others is a big lesson for a preschooler to learn and one that translates well into a bigger arena when he gets older.
Praise and scold appropriately
When your child does perform an act of kindness, be effusive in your approval. Say things like, "I'm so proud of you for sharing the toys at preschool." More than anything else, your preschooler wants to make you happy, so when she does, shout it from the mountaintops. As she gets older, she'll still appreciate your support, but will behave in a generous fashion because it makes her feel good. At the same time, if your preschooler behaves selfishly, be sure to let her know. "It makes me and your friend sad when you grab toys away. Why don't you take turns?"
Stress the importance of manners
Thank you is such a simple phrase, but it makes such a difference in a little one's behavior and how he is perceived. At first, the words may just come out of your child's mouth out of force of habit or because you are prompting -- "What do we say?" -- but eventually he'll grasp the meaning behind them. Talk about why telling someone "thank you" is important. Point out a time that someone said "thank you" to him and how that made him feel good inside.
Get them to take stock
In the beginning, you might be concerned if your little one rattles off a list of all the toys and things that she owns, but even being thankful for material things is OK. Just be sure to help her balance the list out by pointing out the people in her lives that she loves too. This listing project makes them stop and think about the people and things that matter most to them and why.
As your little one develops characteristics like empathy and sympathym, his sense of gratitude will also develop alongside attributes that will help make up his value system. Teaching a child to be thankful, generous, and kind is a lifelong process, and it is one that involves lots of friends and family to help—this is certainly something to be grateful for.
The Giving Tree (for teachers):
Ask students to bring gently used school supplies to donate to the class giving tree. The giving tree can be created on a bulletin board, made out of recycled wood, or a recycled holiday tree. Invite students to place their donated items at the base of the tree or place on the tree. The teacher can instruct the class to donate the items to students who need those items and can use them in the same class, other grades, or the entire school.
Book Share (for families)
Ask your son or daughter to pick out a book to read together as a family. This is an example of sharing a story with loved ones. With multiple children, switch stories on different story times/days and invite other siblings to take part and choose a story to share with the family.
- "Big pumpkin" by Erica Silverman
- "The last chocolate cookie" by Jamie Rix
- "5 nice mice" by Chisato Tashiro
- "The Pigeon finds a hot dog!" by Mo Willems
- "Give me half!" by Stuart J. Murphy