Kids, Greed and Giving

Kids Can End Hunger
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank – Kids Can End Hunger Campaign


All this advertising and buzz around Black Friday sales is making my head hurt! I’m worried that my kids will only ​think about material items this holiday season. Is there any tangible way to teach my kids the holidays aren’t just about Xboxs and toys, and to show them the value of going good?

Zack, in PA

Kids want stuff.

That is the absolute truth. And there is nothing wrong with wanting stuff. But, as you point out, we need to teach our kids balance so that holidays – and all times – are not solely about the wanting. If we want our kids to think about giving, we have to give with them, and make it as usual and traditional as the wanting and getting at this time of year.

Giving matters.

Our kids can learn to give. Most kids have some giving experience already, right?

  • Compliments
  • Cards
  • Gifts
  • Artwork

It’s great for kids to give to those they know and love. This teaches them to look at others to see how they can spread happiness and appreciation. As they grow we want our children to give of themselves to friends and family. But we also want them to give to people they don’t know.

Kids can make the world a better place.

Want kids to feel self-confident? Want them to be problem-solvers? Want them to understand that they are both lucky in what they have and strong in their ability to help others? Me too! And teaching those things couldn’t be more simple. All we have to do is give our kids the chance to help others.

How can kids help?

They can give money. It’s not enough, though, for kids to hand over their parents’ money to a cause. So encourage kids to raise money by

  • Keeping some of their own allowance or gifts and setting them aside to donate.
  • Earning some of your money from you by doing extra work (not their regular chores) around the house.
  • Selling something (and talk to them about the costs of the materials) like lemonade, or hot chocolate or artwork and donating the profits.

They can give stuff. Again, not only stuff they help you find that you bought, like cans of food no one is eating. Encourage kids to give

  • When kids grow, ask them to sort their own clothes into a “still fits” and a “giveaway” pile.
  • Sort toys and look hard for things that work well and are lots of fun, but… they could part with for someone without.
  • Find “doubles” like stuffed animals or games that are similar enough to give to a child without.
  • Spending their own money (see above!) on food to donate and then match their gift!

They can give time. Just as we value our time, our kids have ideas of how to spend their own. Show them how valuable their time and abilities are to others by giving them opportunities to

  • play near older adults who will appreciate their presence and enthusiasm.
  • show off an ability, like piano playing or karate skills or dance or ball-handling in front of an audience of veterans or seniors.
  • spend time with kids a little younger, sharing an interest or skill with those kids.

The toughest part, of course, is that we teach kids best to give by

Giving alongside our children.

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