You probably won't be taking your toddler to volunteer at the soup kitchen any time soon, but even the youngest kids can get involved in giving back and learn to have a giving spirit, says Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions. Just start small. "Little acts help kids pick up the true spirit of giving," she says. So find fun ways for your littles to get involved: have them add sprinkles to a batch of fresh baked cookies for the neighbor whose family can't visit for Christmas -- and then deliver together. Or have them make wrapping paper for Grandma's Christmas present and hand it to her.
"The secret is to look for fun little ways to involve your children in giving to others -- wrapping presents, baking cookies, picking out one special gift to get them into the merriment," Borba says, "and make sure they hand deliver the gift so they can hear the 'thank you' and see the pleasure on the recipient's face."