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Teaching compassion through the holidays

Tana Johnson is best known as “Mom” at Tiny Green Mom, an informative online magazine written expressively for parents interested in all things “green,” from tips on living a healthier lifestyle to the latest organic products available f...

Giving Back

As the holiday season moves into full swing, it is often the time of the year that brings to mind what you can get, get, get... and subsequently forget about the true spirit of the season! This year, encourage every member of your family, no matter what age, to be compassionate and to give of themselves during the holidays. The lessons learned will leave a lasting impression throughout the year and bring you even closer together as a family.
Little girl making donation

Give thanks

Large or small, expressing thankfulness for the blessings in your life is important for you to model for even the youngest member of your family -- and not just on one day in November. Children need to know that the aspects of your life that are often taken for granted, such as running water, a roof over their heads, a warm place to sleep, and food on the table, are gifts. While it is customary to give thanks for family, friends and loved ones, making it a habit to count your blessings out loud all year round is just as essential to foster a sense of gratitude in your children.

Volunteer

As a family, take a break from the hustle and bustle by finding an organization with which to volunteer your time during the holidays, such as a soup kitchen, food pantry or even a nursing home where you can visit the residents. By giving of your time together as a family, you are encouraging selflessness and a sense of gratefulness for all that you have in your life. If you can afford to assist a needy family in your area, whether through a nonprofit organization or a church, synagogue or mosque, you can also have your children pick out and help wrap gifts for the family who would otherwise be going without this season. Make it fun -- adopt a family with children similar in age to your children, and have them shop with you to pick out a gift that they know the child their own age would love to receive. A good place to start is the Salvation Army, who has partnered with JCPenney this year to create The Salvation Army Angel Giving Tree, which helps you to adopt an angel in your area, making their holiday merry and bright. You can adopt a group or individual, and JCPenney offers free shipping on purchases for your angel.

Go shopping -- for a cause

Find an organization that gives back when shopping this season. For instance, Krochet Kids International sells warm and snuggly knitted hats, stylish tees, hoodies, tote bags and more as gift ideas. This non-profit organization gives fair-wage crocheting jobs to women in Uganda and Peru, offering them economic stability in hopes of ending the cycle of poverty. Their motto? Buy a hat, change a life.

More family holiday ideas

Make your holiday card a Christmas craft
Fun holiday traditions to introduce this year
10 Classic Christmas movies kids love

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