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Just as voting demonstrates to your child how you feel about your civic responsibility, so does Thanksgiving give you a chance to help your child learn about your feelings about charity. Your preschool child doesn't know a lot about Thanksgiving but he does understand about giving and receiving. He knows that he likes it when you give him things. By now you have undoubtedly taught him this part about giving. Now it is time to teach him about the other part-giving.
School food drives are one way to teach your child about charity. You have been hearing a lot about United Way as another way of giving. Once again, the only way this teaches your child about giving is for you to talk with him about why you are writing the check. Tell him who is going to get helped because of what you are doing.
But the best way to teach a young person about giving is to let him be involved in the process. Take something to an older person in the rest home who has no visitors. It can be a cupcake or a bouquet. You need to check in with the rest home to know what would be appropriate and who would be a good person to get something from your child.
Bring your extra cans of food to the food bank. But have him bring the package in. Talk with him about giving and who it helps and why we should do it.
Being generous and charitable is something we need to teach our children. If your older child doesn't know about giving, it is time for her to learn. Actually, it is something we all need to learn. The place a child usually learns about these kinds of things is at home. Once again, you are your child's first and most important teacher. Don't skip the lesson about giving.
Cynthia Martin is the director of Parenting Matters Foundation. Reach Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 681-2250.