The Benefits of Toddler Giving
As adults, we understand that, among the many balancing acts of life, people must balance giving and receiving. If people give without receiving, they will be taken advantage of; if people receive without giving, they will be perceived as narcissists who take advantage of others. Therefore, healthy adults learn to balance giving and receiving, and we, as parents, understand that we must teach our children how to strike that balance so that they can grow to be healthy adults as well.
Receiving is natural to children. It’s what they’ve known all their young lives. Since infants and very young children are unable to provide for themselves, they rely on receiving from others. For example, if a six-month-old is hungry, he knows that he will receive food from his mother when he communicates his hunger to her.
Giving is (or can be) the tricky part. By the time a child is a toddler, the child has developed enough competency to provide somewhat for himself. Concurrently, he can provide somewhat for others as well. For some toddlers, this comes naturally. For others, it is a battle royal. However, teaching your toddler to give is essential because it will teach him to be a healthy adult. And it’s not just about being a healthy adult . . . studies have shown that children who give (especially when they give of their own belongings) are more likely to be happy than are children who do not give.
So what can parents do to help their toddler develop a balanced giving nature?
1. First and foremost, help your toddler understand his environment and how he fits into it. Help him see the perspectives of others and feel a sense of community sufficient that he is responsive to the needs and wishes of others. This is a large and somewhat daunting goal, but it’s worthy nonetheless. Start by leading by example. Talk with your toddler about what you see in the world around you, how you fit into that world, and how you respond to the needs and wishes of others. For example, you may say to your toddler, “I’ve noticed that the Smiths next door never have groceries in their refrigerator when we go over there. I know their daddy doesn’t have a job right now. He’s a smart guy, and I know he’ll get a good job soon, but I worry for how they are doing in the meantime. We are blessed to have all our needs met, and so I’m thinking we should share our blessings with the Smiths. I think we should take the family for a picnic; we’ll drive, provide all the food, and make a fun day of it. What do you think about that?” Then, let your toddler see you put your words into action: he will learn a lot by watching you act with kindness and love (make sure you do not display pity or condescension). As your toddler begins to grasp what you are doing, proceed to ask him questions about his own perceptions and opportunities. For example, you may say to your toddler, “I’m sorry to hear that your buddy is getting picked on in school! How do you think he feels right now? . . . (toddler’s answer) . . . How do you feel about what he is going through? . . . (toddler’s answer) . . . Is there something you can do to be a good friend to him and help him through this mess?”
2. When your toddler outgrows his clothes, toys, etc., ask him what he’d like to do with them. It’s ok to let him keep some of his favorites, but the rest of his outgrown items might be reused by others in need. Does he know anyone who might benefit from his outgrown treasures? Let him make suggestions. After he has chosen a recipient, you, as parent, can make the first contact with the recipient’s parents to make sure that the giving of the outgrown treasures is welcomed, appropriate, and received as an act of love rather than pity. (With no need to reference perceived need, you might say, “Johnny has outgrown his baby toys. He said you just had a new baby. Would you like some of these baby toys that Johnny has outgrown?”) Once you have set the stage, let your toddler help you prepare for the giving. You two can wash the items, repair any damage, and package the items for transport to their new home. You both should be present when the giving is done. Afterward, you should praise him for his kindness and generosity. Make sure he knows how proud you are of him.
3. When you toddler is playing with another child, and that child wants to play with his toy, encourage your toddler not to say, “MINE” while clutching the toy tightly to his chest. Instead, help the children share the toy. For example, you may say to your toddler, “It’s nice that you have a toy to share, don’t you think? Can you two play ball together? Let me show you how to bounce the ball back and forth to each other.” Or, you may say, “It’s nice that you have a toy to share, don’t you think? How about you each take turns playing with the teddy bear? Would that be ok for both of you?”
4. If you see your toddler giving without balance, you should speak with him about balance. For example, you may say to your toddler, “I think it’s great that you want to give your bed to the little boy in your class who does not have a bed to sleep on. I’m so proud of you for your kind and giving nature! However, you need your bed: YOU have to sleep on it. Is there another way you can help that little boy?” If your toddler does not come up with alternatives on his own, you may suggest a few. “How about if you and he have some lemonade stands? We’ll provide all the materials that you’ll need. You can share the profits (and, between you and me, his share can be, say, 90%). He can then use his profits to buy whatever he needs, which may be food for the family’s refrigerator, a used mattress for him to sleep on, or something else that he or his family needs. What do you think of that idea?”
By following the four tips above, you can help your toddler develop a balanced giving nature. For more useful tips; continue to visit Care4hire.com.