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How to Raise a Giver in a Gimme World | Practicing Gratitude

It’s nine pm and the children may not be quite asleep but at least they’re in bed and you can collapse on the couch.

You’ve no more to give. You’re 110% out of everything.   You tell yourself “Surely it’s not going to be like this forever!”

Our children certainly know how to ask!

They expect us to give so much of ourselves.   Whether you’re in the middle of the whirlwind that is life with children under 5, or banging your head against the brick wall that life with children 6 and up can be, soon enough you will ask “How am I going to teach them how to give?”

We’ve heard of the many ways we can help our children to be givers at times such as Christmas, when the gifts avalanche under the tree or on their birthdays, when we face the ‘Do I let them open their gifts in front of the guests?” dilemma.

But how do we teach our children to be givers on any other day, on the most ordinary of days and in the smallest of ways?

The first step in learning to give may begin in receiving.  The simple words “Say ‘Thank You’” prompt our children each time they take, of the value of gratitude.

We know words alone aren’t what get us through the pile of laundry that needs to be sorted or change the face of poverty.   Can we inspire our children to give?

Reflecting on learning to give:

One childhood memory is the time Dad pulled the car over to the footpath one morning as we travelled through the centre of our small town.  He told me to wait in the car and he got out, crossed over to talk to a man in the shadow of a building awning.  He stood there for a while, as my brothers and I tried to work out how he might know this man dressed in worn, shapeless clothes and a hessian sack at his feet.   When Dad came back to the car, we were bursting with curiosity.   It was a moment when my father, who himself grew up with next to nothing, showed us in a moment how we might give.

Dad had his reasons for giving to strangers, whilst treating them as friends. We each have our own reasons for wanting to give. We want to show our own children they can do the same.  Your children will hear you. I know this because I asked the girls in my class at Brigidine College to tell me their own family advice about ‘giving’.

When kids explain:

Raising a giver in a gimme world

  • “My Dad tells me that ‘just because you give, it doesn’t mean you are going to get something.”
  • “My mum started me off on small chores when I was little.  She tells me ‘You can’t just take, you have to give as well.’”
  • “My family love the Beatles.   We say, ‘The love you make should be equal to the love you take.’”

Be an active role model

It might be asking for help with the laundry or it might be spending an extra five minutes to take a less able person’s trolley back at the supermarket, but know that every time you do, you are showing your child what ‘giving’ means to you.  They see. They listen. They will step up.

So tonight, when you finally get to put your feet up, take a short moment to think about what ‘giving’ looks like to you.  And as parents, know that our words tell our children the importance of gratitude and the joys of giving but it’s our actions that show them the way.

Written by: Nicole Kapernick B.Arts (Drama) , Grad. Dip. Sec. Ed., Cert IV Teaching and Assessing.

Secondary school teacher at Brigidine College and mother of two boys (aged 9 and 13) and one daughter (aged 15)

To find out more about a Brigidine Education for your daughter, go to: www.brigidine.qld.edu.au

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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