Tis the season to cultivate generosity in your children…
This post is adapted from Raising Resilience by Chris Willard, one of a dozen free offerings in the Holiday Companion from Sounds True. May it deepen the spirit of the winter holidays for you and yours.
Nearly every spiritual tradition has a practice of generosity and giving. Neuroscience agrees with the spiritual wisdom that tells us we feel more joy in giving than in receiving – we are, in fact, wired to be generous. We know now that making a practice of kindness and generosity leads to health, mental health, and social and spiritual benefits. The benefits even extend to just witnessing an act of generosity.
However, our consumer culture tells us the opposite, that getting will make us feel better. In families today, children are often in the “getting” role, adults in the “giving” role.
How can we encourage a spirit of generosity in our families?
Here are a few ideas to consider:
* Involve your kids in the decisions for charitable giving, taking into account what your family’s values are, such as: social justice, the environment, health issues that have impacted your family, or giving presents for children of families in need.
* Follow the lead of my friend’s grandmother who gave the grandkids $100 each year, with $50 to spend on themselves and $50 that she would donate to a charity of their choice.
* Remember that you can also give your time or support. Volunteer as a family, a practice shown to boost happiness, empathy and build closeness.
* Give experiences – the happiness will last longer than the lifespan of a toy. Perhaps travel, theater tickers, a class or museum passes.
*Donate toys to make space for the new. Notice together which toys are getting lonely and would be happier in a new home, saying thank you and goodbye to old toys, and imagining the happiness they will bring after they’ve been donated onward.
For more suggestions on raising happy families and thriving children, see Linda’s post on Dr. Willard’s book “Raising Resilience: Happy Families, Thriving Children,” or check out the book itself: Raising Resilience: The Wisdom and Science of Happy Families and Thriving Children.