One of my favorite topics is teaching kids about money. Related to that topic, and particularly relevant with the holidays approaching, is how to teach kids to be generous to others and their community.

Generosity does not come easy to most kids. Developmentally, kids are very much focused on the self and what they need and want now. The giving lesson can involve both giving back to the community and generosity to family and friends.

If your child has been saving a portion of their allowance into a “Giving” bucket during the year, he/she should have accumulated a decent amount by the time the holiday season rolls around. Now is a good time to help him/her decide how he/she would like to donate this money. Here are a few options:

  • Have them buy a gift to contribute to the Toy Drive at their school or your local fire station.
  • Have them buy canned food to contribute to a canned food drive.
  • Ask them who or what they’d like to help out. For example, if they love animals, then suggest taking a tour of and donating their money to the Humane Society or local animal shelter. If they want to help other children, suggest a charity that benefits children, such as the Canal Alliance or Marin Charitable. If they want to take care of the planet, suggest they donate money to a charity like the Audubon Society in Tiburon or a national charity like World Wildlife Fund. I like local charities because then my kids can take a tour to make the impact more tangible.

In addition to donating the money from their “Giving” bucket, you can also teach kids the value of donating their time to those less fortunate.  Make it a family tradition to do at least one volunteer project together during the holidays. The benefits from this type of activity are plentiful. Not only are you helping out someone in need, but you are instilling good values in your children and spending quality time together. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Serve a meal at a food kitchen
  • Wrap gifts for poor kids
  • Sort food for the food bank
  • Sing holiday songs at the local nursing home

The holidays are a great time to teach kids about generosity to family members and friends. You could suggest that they buy or make a gift for a sibling or family member using their own allowance. They could make or decorate holiday cards to send out to family. They can make a gift or card for their teachers.

Opportunities to share holiday cheer with others are plentiful this time of year and present teachable moments to instill good values in your children at an early age.