If you're like most parents, you want to give your kids everything, especially during the holidays. But then you worry – will the true meaning of the season get lost amidst the mounds of discarded wrapping paper?

At Boys & Girls Clubs of America, teaching kids to give back is one of the things we do best. This holiday season, try our tips to help your kids learn the value of giving, too.

  1. Talk about giving. Tell your kids which causes you're supporting this year and why. Better yet, make the choice together. Or give each child a portion of what you plan to donate this year and allow him or her to choose the charity.
  2. Read books about giving. Try The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen, I Can Make a Difference by Julie and Amanda Sexson or a selection from Learning to Give's Annotated Bibliography of Children's Literature.
  3. Volunteer together. Whether serving a meal at a soup kitchen or lending a hand at an animal shelter, volunteering helps kids learn compassion – and it's a great way for families to spend time together. Check with your child's school, your religious institution, a local Boys & Girls Club or The Volunteer Family for project ideas.
  4. Encourage routine volunteering. Contributing regularly to an organization they choose can be meaningful, showing kids that they have the power to make a difference. This is especially true for teens. Support them by providing transportation or extra allowance for expenses, if needed.
  5. Do something fun, like cooking or an art project. Even very young children can make cards for senior center residents or help you bake a tasty treat for a neighbor. These are perfect ways to have fun while thinking about others.
  6. Tell family stories about philanthropy. Talk about times when your family has helped someone in need, or times when your family has received help.
  7. Acknowledge and celebrate all kinds of giving acts. Whether your child volunteers, donates allowance, helps a friend or neighbor, or is simply being kind to a sibling, be sure to praise the effort.
  8. Be enthusiastic! Boys & Girls Club kids who are active in community service say they're inspired by the adults in their lives who give back, too.
  9. It's o.k. to offer incentives. Especially for young children, food or prizes can help sweeten the deal when you're asking them to spend time working for a cause.
  10. Make philanthropy a family value. The holidays are a natural fit for giving, but causes can use your support in other seasons, too. Look for opportunities throughout the year to reinforce the idea that helping others is important. Boys & Girls Club teens who are passionate about community service said it was critical to hear this message repeatedly from the adults in their lives.
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