Encouraging Children to Give, Even When It Hurts

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Thanksgiving Dinner
source: Ian Westcott

One of my favorite holiday giving traditions is a project our church does each year to provide holiday meals for families in our community who won’t be able to afford one otherwise.

We picked up our bags this weekend to fill with all of the staples for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner, and we’ll shop later this week to fill them up.

One lesson I want our girls to learn from an early age is that giving sometimes hurts, but that the hurt just makes it that much more special.

In other words, sometimes we have to give up something ourselves in order to be able to give to someone else, but the feeling that comes from that type of sacrifice is worth it.

One way we teach this lesson is to ask the girls to contribute toward these holiday meal bags. We always start with one bag that we’ll fill as a family and then we offer them the opportunity to help fill a second bag by donating a portion of their allowance.

Now, they don’t earn very much each week, so we’re not expecting them to be able to pay for a whole bag on their own (yet…), but giving up $1 or $2 when you’re 6 and only have a few dollars and are eyeing a new toy is a pretty big sacrifice.

My girls are normal kids, so this was not an easy decision for them to make last year. They spent a lot of time thinking it over before deciding to give up some of their personal money to help fill a second bag, but in the end, they decided to do it (proud mama alert!).

We had a ton of fun shopping for the things we needed, decorating the bags and making cards for the families that would receive them, and I’m hoping they’ll remember that when it’s time to make the decision about whether to contribute this year!

How do you encourage your kids to give? Do you teach them about sacrificial giving as well?