Teaching children to give is one of the best ways to get flexible kids. A flexible kid knows how to be happy with what he has got ‘right now’, not yesterday, not tomorrow! That’s also a kid in tune with positive values as Empathy and Solidarity.
The flexible child, whatever his possessions, has a real idea of the value of things. Above all, he knows the value of Love and Support (supporting is something each of us can do even with no money). Giving support and love, living a non-materialistic life, centered on beautiful values, here is a dynamic that we should offer to our children as a gift. We all know that during the sad or dramatic events that life may bring the material side is not useful…
This is why it seems so important to pass on our strongest values to our children. Let’s teach them to be happy in the moment, to cherish what they already have, rather than drowning them into an abundance of toys and activities (have a look at my post about Piaget)… An activity as Dress-Up Play has got much more benefits than others. Children don’t need to much things to play, the less they have the more they imagine and visualize what is very good for their development.
Teach Them Values As Support and Empathy Before They Have To Train By Themselves…
Learning to give is to be aware of the value of other people. The others sometimes deserve we give up some possessions but also some of our preconceptions…
You may lose everything you own throughout life. Think of those women who never worked because they left school to raise their children and to care for their families, and whose husbands ask for a divorce…
Think of the moves that require us to get rid of some items that will not hold in our future housing.
We can lose our jobs, our wages and have to sell things to replenish our bank account… Those things do happen!
During a lifetime we lose relatives, friends, co-workers… Parting with some people and things is almost an obligatory stage. Teaching our children things are not set in stone may be a good idea. It’s a lesson much easier to learn when things are fine. Don’t wait for them to experience a rush or an emergency situation. Talk about life’s lack of immutability before crisis happen… To get and to lose are parts of life. Learning to give is a way to master the notion of loss.
To get and to lose are parts of life. Learning to give is a way to master the notion of loss.
I Sold Everything I Had
In 2000, I went through a major crisis. I lost one of my best friend. Not all of my possessions taught me one essential thing: we live in a world where everything changes, always. We can lose the people we love the most at any time without having any possibility to say goodbye, a first or a last “I love you”. Since that fateful day over 20 years ago, I have spent my time letting go of things rather than accumulating them… Anyone I saw alone and helpless in the street could have been this friend, in a younger or an older version. I reviewed all my values in the light of his passing. It took me years to have a little empathy for the young materialistic girl I had been before he passed. I sold everything I had and started to work a lot and to travel twice a year. My goal was no longer to buy but to live new experiences, to meet people living in a different way. Islanders, mountain people, Indians, Native Americans… The trip has robbed me of shopping. I moved on to a higher goal, a more human purpose… Today I can say that this loss has transformed me. There is no longer any materialism traces in me. The more I give, the more I get so I give again and again…
We Were Never Made For Superficiality
Giving birth to my first child, at 30, I had a very clear idea of what I was going to teach him. I kept thinking about my best friend from high school who kept telling me, before he passed, the best in life was to laugh and to love. So I raised my child in laughter and love, but also in prayer. However, I separated from his father because he did not assume his financial responsibilities. I had a day job (I worked in a hospital) and a night job (I was an editor for newspapers and magazines). Since we weren’t married, I couldn’t ask for anything, no child support! So I gave my son everything he needed by fending for myself. My first child saw me working on the evenings in the living room. Quickly he understood the value of money and work. Fortunately, by applying the values transmitted by my deceased friend (laughing, loving, a value to which I added another one which was giving), I finally met the man of my life who became my husband. Today we have been together for 13 years and married for 10 years. He is my second child’s father. He has got such qualities as shyness and integrity… We believe we were never made for superficiality and possessions. Nobody was! Our purpose as human beings is much higher! That is what we deeply think.
He Doesn’t Want To Throw Away!
But today my first child can’t give his old stufs. It is linked to my separation from his father. Having a room with immutable objects reassures him. It’s a big deal to get him to throw away every worn book or undersized T-shirt. I’m aware that if he doesn’t throw away that’s because I haven’t taught him how to do it!
If you get into the habit of sorting, giving, throwing, then your child won’t be afraid to do it with his own stufs. When a child is asked to get rid of an item, he also gets rid of something from his past, from his own story. It is the same for us, adults, excepting that we have lived much more experiences… We have learned to remember the good times without linking a transitional object to that! To come back to my own story, I remember after this terrible mourning I was ready to do anything to get an item that had belonged to my friend! But his parents (who were clever people) knew that idolizing a sweater or a cap wouldn’t make me feel better! They refused, and today I’m able to thank them for that! I was full of guilt. But no amount of guilt can be cured with stufs and items! The overflow of possessions suffocates what you deeply are. You give energy and time to all of these unnecessary things. God knows we all need a roof, some money, some clothes, some books for instruction, a car to get around (or subway tickets) and the love of our children and relatives. We need to laugh, to love, to give and to move towards our life mission or towards a life full of meaning. The rest is probably illusory and quiet superficial…
A Crowded Room
As a little child, my first son very often gave his chocolates or candies to other children. I must admit that I should not have encouraged him enough in that path! Soon he will be 17 years old. His room is very crowded. It’s impossible for me to tidy it up without spending a week there. Every summer, during his vacation outside, I take the opportunity to throw away the packagings, cardboard boxes and old papers that take up all the space. I also sort out the clothes that are too small. I’m not proud of myself but if I don’t do that he won’t be able to move around in his own room in september! Recently we upgraded his room with a mezzanine. He was satisfied to increase his living space. This caused him to tidy up and throw away a bit more… We can only congratulate him when he makes even a minimal effort to throw things away…
The Fabulous Flea Market
My second child is 5 years old. At first it was the same thing, he did not want to give or part with his baby toys which he no longer used. Then the bedroom got very crowded too. He then agreed to put some things in the attic. Today he is learning to give what he no longer wants. He derives a great joy from it. He started by giving away his fast food toys. He felt so important when he gave them to one of his school mates that he walked out that day in joy, very excited and said himself that pleasing another brings confidence!
He also learned to give a few euros to the church. Seeing me giving money to homeless people, he often says “Mum, this man should be given a coin” even when I’m not paying attention…
Recently he agreed to sell his big toys to a flea market. He knows he can buy back whatever he wants with the money collected. He found it fabulous!
For my part, I have always liked to give, much more than to receive. I learned to give the day I understood that life had given me my share and that sometimes I had not even been able to seize it. It took me through that terrible mourning to become the generous person I am today…
Teaching Children To Give: The Benefits
Here are the benefits of teaching your children to give items they no longer use.
- Receiving and giving learns the value of things
- To part with some items means to make room for novelty!
- Letting go some toys means accepting that all things may change!
- Knowing how-to-give is learning self-confidence. If I give, I may be given! I don’t need anything!
- Giving is accepting that items do not have the same value as deep ideas or beliefs
- Giving is letting go and realizing that we are no worse off without an item!
- Learning to give is learning to know yourself without artifice, without superficiality, with no items you are only… what your deeply are! “I am what I am!”
- Learning to give is to understand that true love does not depend on possessions
- Giving is knowing how to consider the chances you were given. When I give and say “I don’t need this to be happy!” then I accept that abundance is indeed part of this world. I don’t need possessions to be rich!
The Big Lesson: Nothing Is Set In Stone!
The biggest lesson in being able to give items, time or money to others is to accept that nothing is set in stone! We are all likely to need each other one day!
When you accept that nothing is immutable, you are able to accept changes and situations that come to you. You become able to let go! It is also good to understand that you can act on items! They can in no way become your masters! It’s up to you to decide how much place you give to your spiritual life and how much place you give to inanimate objects that will likely outlive you…
To teach our children to throw or to give, let’s show them an example. Then let’s encourage them to give small things when they are ready to do so. Do not force them to avoid triggering the reverse process!
I’m not what I own! I’m not what I do! I’m what I’m!
If I am taken away from what I have, if I am taken away from my job, I will remain what I am. This is why I must not be what I own nor what I do! Here’s another big lesson about having and giving, a lesson parents should teach to their children since their very young age.