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Thinking Beyond Ourselves

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Here in the south, we are nearing the end of our summers. The school supply lists are beginning to circulate, and the very real start of school is looming on the horizon.

I have fond memories of starting back to school, and I try to pass that enthusiasm on to my kids. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't always work.) But more than excitement, I try and use Back to School time as an opportunity to drive home that we're all part of a much bigger village, and we all need to make an effort to take care of eachother.

Truth be told: if they take away that last thought more than the excitement of Back to School? I will consider my parenting a success.

Teaching kids to be grateful has often proven to be a fruitless endeavor, in my experience. Kids understand that they should be grateful, but until they have real world experience to stack alongside it, I can't begrudge them not understanding it. How can you describe snow just from a picture? You'd have to touch it, see it, smell it, right? Same with gratitude and giving.

Back to School has always provided us some great opportunities to teach how to give. Most local communities sponsor some sort of drive for supplies, and we participate for both boys. We'll pick up a "donor list" for each age range of the boys, and they boys have to pick out the things that go into that pack.

It's been kind of cool, to do this every year. The boys are - obviously - excited about picking out their own supplies for the upcoming year, but it's heartwarming how seriously they take picking out supplies for someone less fortunate. They're very purposeful, choosing color themes or fun additions that they think would be a hit. I would say that they put twice as much thought into the donated supplies than they do their own.

We've found other ways to impart lessons about giving to others. We routinely clean out the toy bins and we make it clear that these toys will go to kids who are in need of toys. (We have to be careful with this - our youngest will now give away his stuff to his friends because "they probably need it more"!) Our oldest has volunteered with local Special Olympics groups and inclusion classrooms. We feel pretty strongly that teaching kids now that we are all responsible for eachother isn't limited to an age or a time of year.

Have you begun to teach your child about the greater good? Any ideas?

by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Replies (11-20):
by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 11:44 AM

We lead by example.

by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 12:09 PM

were trying, my boys are very slow to learn though.

by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM

 My kids aren't very old yet but I've been talking to my older one about taking care of others. =)

by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 1:24 PM

We also give away toys to charities on a regular basis.  We also each year have them pick an angel off the tree at Christmas to buy gifts for that child that needs them.  They love this!

by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 1:30 PM

 Yes, we have taught them about being selfless and thoughtful, caring for others and looking out for those they love.

by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 1:31 PM

 We do this, too - it's very important.

Quoting .Angelica.:

I teach them to treat others the way they want to be treated and to be respectful of others property.


by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 1:32 PM

 We do this, too. It's important to remind them at times when they're getting so much that others out there aren't as lucky as they are and doing something like this can make a huge difference for those people.

Quoting Reina13:

We do the same thing. We buy donor lists for school supplies as well. During the holidays, as a family we chose a child from the Angel Tree. In addition, the boys will each pick out a toy to donate to Toys For Tots. We have always tried to instill in them at an early age, the importance of giving  back. They love to shop for these things. Knowing that somewhere out there, they made life just that much better for someone.


by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 2:24 PM

Our kids earn money for doing some chores around the house (some are paid, some you must just do as part of a member of the family)- out of that money they have to save some, spend some, and give some away.  They usually save up their 'give' money and go buy things for those in need when the school or church is doing a drive of some type- like the school supplies.  

by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 2:45 PM

We do a lot of donating during the year. Have never done anything for back to school time though.

by on Jul. 24, 2012 at 3:35 PM
My kids know a lot about this.
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