If your preschooler is like many other young children, she has moments when she willingly shares what she has and other moments when the thought of sharing makes her shriek with anger. You want to encourage her to share what she does not need or can spare. Generosity activities allow her to practice sharing.
1. Gift Giving
As the holidays approach, churches and non-profit groups often solicit gifts to give to underprivileged children. Ask your child, “Would you like to choose gifts for children who won’t have anything under the Christmas tree unless we help?” He might enjoy being a Christmas angel for a child his age. He’s sure to have lots of suggestions for toys and clothing. You could do something similar with school supplies and clothing at the beginning of the school year or at Easter. Alternatively, he could help you collect groceries to take to a food bank any time of the year or help you take supplies to a shelter.
2. Role Playing
There are times when you want your preschooler to be generous and other times when her generous impulse isn't safe; you want her to stay safe as she helps. Start a conversation by asking, “If your classmate cries because he doesn’t have anything to eat, what would you do?" Suggest she share her sandwich or apple to let her know that sharing with a child in her class is alright. Alternatively, if she asks, “Can I have some money to give to the man who stands at the corner with a sign and a cup?” you might discuss giving him a sandwich or a cold drink only when you are with her. Each of these role-plays helps her understand what she should and shouldn’t do when being generous.
3. Donating Personal Belongings
Kids outgrow clothes so fast and might have more toys than they can regularly play with. Ask your child, “I’d like to give some clothing and toys to children who don’t have very much. Would you like to look through your old clothes that don’t fit any more and your toys to see what you could bring?” He might gladly donate the clothes and have a more difficult time with the toys. When kids come over to play, you also want him to share generously. You might say, “Can David play with your truck? You can have it back in a little while.” Your assurance that sharing doesn’t mean he has to give it away can encourage him to share.
4. Providing Community Service
Your child can learn that giving time and service is another way to be generous. Asking her to help you plant vegetables in the community garden to help feed those that don’t have enough to eat gives her a way to give of her time and energy. Alternatively, you might suggest, “Mrs. Smith fell and hurt her leg. Would you help me take her dinner and see if she needs help around the house?” She might think of ways she can serve, such as sweeping sidewalks or playing with a younger sibling.
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