How to Teach Your Child the Joy of Giving, Not Just Getting, At the Holidays

December 16, 2014 8:33 PM

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The holidays bring so many wonderful opportunities for us to enjoy our children, share in their delight and (sigh) feel like their personal shoppers. Sharing with others can be the farthest thing from your child's mind on any given day, but it is conspicuously absent when your tech-savvy 5-year-old is texting you hyperlinks from his iPhone with the exact color, make and model of the toys he wants. For me, the personal shopper dimension of the holidays is immortalized in the first Babe movie, where the eccentric visionary Farmer Hoggett, played flawlessly by James Cromwell, has worked painstakingly on a dollhouse for his granddaughter. As the cover is lifted to reveal the homemade masterpiece -- the granddaughter screams: "It's the wrong one! I want the one I saw on television!!!" The grandfather smiles wryly. Oh, to have a smidgen of that equanimity.

Is it possible to go from the Farmer Hoggett moment to a child who is excited about giving to others? I think it is. But our kids aren't the only ones who need to shift mindset. Parents need to be flexible too with rising above some of our understandable discomfort about our children's self-centered...

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