I'd like to donate some of my kids' stuff (toys, clothes, etc.), but they get upset whenever I even bring it up - even though it's been ages since they've used any of it. How can I help them understand the importance of giving to those who are less fortunate, especially around the holidays? - Anna
When it comes to donating their own things, it's common for kids (especially younger ones) to put up a fuss. Children often grow attached to their possessions, so it's natural for them to not want to part with them. But even preschoolers are old enough to learn about generosity, compassion and the importance of helping others. Donating their old toys is a great way to begin that lesson.
When talking about donating, keep your child's age and maturity in mind. Try something simple and straightforward, like: "Some people don't have as much money as we do to buy things like toys. I know you used to like that doll, but you haven't played with her in a really long time and you have lots of other dolls. Just think how happy this doll could make another little girl who doesn't have one."
After introducing the idea, ask your kids to help with choosing which things to donate as a family. Here are some tips to get them involved:
Ask for input. Ask where they'd like to see their playthings donated and why. Let kids decide which toys stay and which ones go. When they can't yet seem to part with a favored item, try to respect their wishes but encourage them to look for other options to give.
Set a target. Make it fun by turning it into a game. For example, for every two toys they keep, see if they can give up one.
Reward them for their efforts. Offer plenty of acknowledgement, praise and hugs when they agree to pass along some of their items.
If you're giving away toys, furniture, or baby items, make sure they have all their parts, aren't broken and haven't been recalled (for recall information, just type in the product name on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission's website). Be sure that electronic toys actually work (some organizations won't take toys without working batteries). If you're donating clothes, chuck the ones with stains, tears or holes.
Enlisting your kids in the process of donating - and choosing where to send items, whether it's the local Goodwill or a homeless shelter - not only will help them experience the joy of giving, but might open their eyes (and yours, too) to all the remarkable things to be grateful for in their own lives.
The Parenting Puzzle is provided by the Children's Advocacy Center of Smith County Inc. For more information call 903-533-1880 or visit www.cacsmithcounty.org.