While I try to be thankful all year, I find myself feeling especially grateful around this time of year. Yes, Thanksgiving was just here, but for me it’s the fact that, as the weather gets colder, I have a warm, sturdy house, plenty of clothing, and more than enough food to eat. I’m even grateful for the mess in my daughters’ rooms or the things around the house that I have to clean up because it means that we have things. True, too many things, but still plenty of things to be grateful for in my life.
My husband and I try to promote a sense of gratefulness and responsibility in our children by helping others who are less fortunate. Here are three ways you can involve your children in helping others.
Pick a tag off of a Giving Tree (or Angel Tree) and have your child help shop for a present and talk about the child you are shopping for. Help your child understand that this child might not get any toys/clothing if you did not help out. Explain that this child is loved very much by his/her parent, but the parent most likely does not have enough money for fun things or things above and beyond the necessities.
Adopt a family from a homeless shelter or check with your child’s school to see if there is a family you could help. Please note that there will likely be a need for confidentiality. Families in need do not typically want to be recognized or noticed. Even though your family might provide for the same adopted family all year, the shelter or school contact might not share anything other than age, gender and sizes. It is important that if you or your child figures out who this family is, that you don’t call it to their attention.
When we pulled names off a gift tree one year, my daughter figured out that she knew two of the children. We discussed confidentiality, how lucky we were to be able to help and how nice it was that she had insight into what these children might need and want throughout the year. Of course, you, the parent, need to determine if this is something your child understands and can handle. Some children would find it hard to keep that knowledge secret, especially over an extended period of time.
Donate. You can give your child a specific amount of money to donate and help him decide which organization he wants to donate to this year. Or, another thought is that you could match the amount he chooses to donate of his own money (from allowance, extra chores, gift money, etc.). This might not be a large amount of money, but even a handful of coins helps!
Donating clothing or toys is a great excuse to get your child to clear our closets and storage space for any new clothes/toys that she might receive this year. If possible, bring your child with you to the drop off location and have them carry their items in– often the people receiving the items will make a big deal out of the donation if you (or your child) mention that your child cleaned out her closet to be able to help those less fortunate.
These three ideas are great for children of any age. Even if you have an itty bitty child, begin a new tradition and talk to your child every step of the way. Each year he will understand a little more and the act of helping others will become a ‘fact of life’ in his world, maybe even something he eagerly anticipates each year and will share with his children.
After a great night of Trick-or-Treating, you’re a bit worried that your child is going to eat 2 pounds of candy a day for the next few weeks. So what can you do about it?!
Many parents will limit the amount of candy their children are allowed to eat after Halloween (1-2 pieces/day). Some even place a limit on the length of time… “We’ll eat Halloween candy for 2 weeks and then be done.” But then, if you’ve had a good year, there is still all of that leftover candy…
Many dentists and orthodontists will collect “extra” Halloween candy. When I first learned about this, I thought it would be bad for business. Don’t dentists stay in business because children eat all of their Halloween candy and forget to brush their teeth? However, each dentist I talked to assured me that they have plenty of business all year long, not just at Halloween and that promoting good dental care (“don’t eat all that candy”) was actually good for business. They want their patients to have healthy, happy teeth.
So, dentists and orthodontists collect the candy you don’t want your children to have. Some even offer bonuses or prizes. One dentist in our town offers a dollar for each pound of candy a child brings to his office. Our orthodontist provides “Goings Bucks” and the children earn one “Goings Buck” towards prizes for each pound of candy they bring in.
My favorite thing to do with “extra” Halloween candy is to donate it. Fortunately, our orthodontist helps with that, too. He collects the candy from his patients and a few local schools and sends it to our military troops serving overseas through Operation Gratitude. To learn more about this organization, click:
What a fabulous way to encourage better nutrition and healthy teeth in your children while thanking those who are protecting our freedom!
Other places you can donate your candy would be nursing homes, hospitals (nurses stations, not patients rooms!), fire and police stations. A great idea is to include a note along with your candy letting people know how much you appreciate what they are doing.
So, you see, there are plenty of positive ways to “share” the extra Halloween candy you don’t want your children eating. Do a little research, get a little creative, and then that candy won’t be sitting around calling your, I mean your child’s, name!