How can we resist the consumerism that encroaches on our children during the holidays and even turn it around to help them learn the true meaning of Christmas? New research shows that helping others is a major key to happiness, and when we are helping or giving to someone it helps us to feel satisfied, more self-assured and uplifted. We actually benefit more than the person we are helping. The best way to develop character in children is to get them involved in helping others less fortunate. This holiday season provides the perfect venue for instilling a focus on others, developing family team-building, and letting them experience firsthand that they can bring joy to others. The key is to plan and start early. Old toys can be sorted through and taken to a shelter before the holidays rather than after. Children can work to use their own money to buy gifts at the dollar store for teachers or siblings. Angel trees can be found in malls and the pre-requested gifts go to the children of prisoners who would be unable to provide for their families. When my children were young, we filled shoeboxes for children in developing nations with essential items like toothbrushes, pencils, soap and small toys. Our staff family is helping with a Christmas Fiesta at Neighborhood Ministries, a holistic Christian outreach to low-income families and at-risk children in the Phoenix inner-city. Parent volunteers come to the two acre campus to work for parent volunteer hours, which earn them “parent bucks”, to redeem at the Christmas Parent Store. We will be helping to set up the store on December 5th.
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