Teaching young children about giving and sharing

During the past three years, baby bookworm has learned all about the getting of the season, but very little about the giving.

This year I wanted that to change. I knew, however, that teaching her to be a giving person wasn't going to be an easy task. After all, the mind of a three year old is largely egocentric. It's prewired to be self-centered and focus on “me.”

I thought the best way to approach the topic of giving with a three year old was to begin with something that she could relate to — books, of course!

Books on giving and sharing

So with the help of our friendly librarian, I gathered up a few good ones on giving and sharing, both fictitious and non-fictitious:

We read through these books a few times and talked about being generous, sharing with others, and helping those in need. I explained not only HOW one gives, but WHY one gives, and the emotions involved as well. What I especially like about all of these books is how they put these concepts into concrete, kid-friendly examples.

Toy donation

After we read these books, I told baby bookworm that we were going to go to the toy store to pick out a new toy for a child who needed one. Then I explained that we would take it to our local police station for the police officers to deliver her toy, along with other toys people had donated, to boys and girls on Christmas.

I'm not going to lie and say that baby bookworm exclaimed, “Let's go! Come on! That sounds like fun!”

What she heard was that I was buying a toy that was not for her, which did not make her happy.

I'm also not going to lie and say that I didn't break down and get a toy for her, too. Because I did. But, generosity is not a trait learned overnight. And it's not one that you can only display one month out of the year.

A resolution

So, on this year's New Year resolution list, I have included:

 ”To be more giving as a family, all year round.”

Because really, that's the way that baby bookworm will learn this value. Through myself and my husband as a model, and through habit. I foresee our giving activities this upcoming year to be simple, though. Picking up litter in our neighborhood, giving time to a friend, donating clothes and books, helping out at a soup kitchen or with the elderly, writing thank you notes to people we love...and I'm hoping that by next Christmas, 2014, I just might hear from her when I suggest buying a toy for another little boy or girl:

“Come on! Let's go! That sounds like fun!”

Marissa Kiepert Truong, PhD is a Chester County, PA mom and early education consultant. This post is adapted from her blog Land of Once Upon a Time.

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