If I wasn’t there when she said it, I wouldn’t have believed it.

When my boss asked his 7-year-old daughter what she’d like for her birthday, she said she didn’t want any gifts. Could everyone make a donation to the Leukaemia Foundation instead?

Excuse me?

After a lengthy conversation, she convinced her parents to have a ‘gift-free’ birthday party and instead, set up an online donation form with the Leukaemia Foundation.

Strong Reactions

In the days leading up to the party, my boss fielded calls from angry parents who called him ‘cruel and heartless’ for denying his child presents on her birthday, as well as calls of support from others.

The day of the party arrived and some children arrived bearing gifts, others with a receipt for their donation in a card and others, clearly not sure of the ‘no gift’ party etiquette, brought both.

What would you have done?

I want my kids to be like Georgia. To look at what they already have and realise the power they possess to change the lives of people around them. I want them to be renowned for their kindness and generosity. So how do I nurture that?

Blueprint for Joy

A study has found that the way parents teach their kids about giving really matters. Firstly, they need to see you model it — i.e., you need to be generous yourself. Secondly, you need to talk about it with them. This research showed that children were 20% more likely to give if their parents talked to them about giving.

A flow-on effect of helping others has been reported in Science Mag, but it was originally reported in the Bible (Acts 20:35): ‘It is more blessed to give than receive.’ Yep, a study released in Science Mag showed that people who spent money on others rather than themselves experienced greater happiness.

And it’s not just about giving money. A long-term research program (since 1986) showed that giving time (volunteering) is good for both mental and physical health.

Here are some fun ways to model generosity and talk to your kids about the benefits of giving:

  • Pack a shoebox and send some Christmas love to a child in need.
  • Sponsor a child overseas — your kids can write letters to your sponsor child and get letters in return about how their donation is helping them.
  • Buy a goat. Seriously! Your kids can choose a ‘useful gift’ for a community in need. Like a goat, veggie garden, clean drinking water, or school supplies. It’s a fun birthday or Christmas gift that teaches your kids that giving can be fun!

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Photo by Nicole Michalou.

About the Author: Annette Spurr

Annette Spurr runs her own business at Blue Box Media and is also the Managing Editor at Mum Daily. As a wife and mother Annette has discovered the power of gratitude journalling.

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