Teach Your Tot to Be Generous

It's not just you. We all want our kids to be more grateful. But this material world is all about living large. Kids get the more-is-better message early on -- from TV, pop music, even in the toy aisle. Here's the good news: Taming their "gimmies" and turning them into givers is easier than you think. Here's how:

Start Small.
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.

Talk About Giving. Little kids (big ones, too, for that matter) love to talk about what they want. Around her birthday or the holidays, especially, it's expected that your tot's focus will be on the presents she hopes she gets. But try reframing the conversation when it comes to gifts, advises Borba. "Turn the word 'getting' to 'giving' -- instead of saying: 'What do you want to get?' Ask, 'What do you want to give?'" It's a simple switch that will help your kiddo learn to think about others' wants, as well as her own.

Read the "Gimme" Cues. We all get tired of hearing "buy me" and "gimmie" and "can I have" from our kids. But all kids want stuff. Instead of responding with frustration (or indulging them), Elizabeth Berger, MD, author of Raising Kids with Character, recommends asking yourself, "What are they really asking for?" Material things can mask emotional needs. They may just want some one-to-one bonding time with you!

Be a Role Model. Your tot may not always listen to you, but that doesn't mean she isn't watching you. So let her see you do nice stuff as often as possible. Does the woman behind you at the checkout have six little items in her hand while your cart runneth over? Let her cut ahead of you. Just being a good neighbor helps you model random acts of kindness. 

For more tips on teaching your child to have a generous spirit, click here!

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