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Make giving a holiday tradition

When it comes to the holidays, most children have certain expectations and a sense of entitlement when it comes to receiving gifts. However by instilling contentment within children and teaching them about the importance of giving, parents can change the way their kids think about the holidays.

A lesson in contentment
Girl donating toys

Contributed by Rachel Cruze

As much fun as Christmas can be for adults, it’s magical for kids. I remember waking up bright and early on many Christmas mornings, eager to see what was waiting for me under the tree. It really was one of the most exciting days of the year.

The trick for parents at Christmas — something my parents were great at — is making sure the kids don’t think the holiday season is all about them.

It’s not all about you

If you don’t tell them that the heart of Christmas is about giving, who will? It certainly won’t be Macy’s or Toys “R” Us or Apple. They are ready and willing to take all the money you and your kid want to give them.

So the question is: How can you help your kids be more in tune with giving at Christmas? The answer is simple. Let them give… a lot!

Make giving a habit

I’m not talking about buying them a present to give to their teacher or handing them a dollar in the parking lot to put in the offering plate at church.

If you really want them to learn what it means to give, then they need to give their own money. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Ten percent is a great place to start.

And this isn’t something you start trying to do during Christmas. Talk about giving all year long, encouraging them to save their money and look for opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life.

Reach out to someone else

During the Christmas season, it’s not hard to find organizations that allow you to “adopt” a family or another child and provide gifts for them. Take your child shopping and let them pick out specific things based on the needs you’ve been given.

Even better, visit the family or child who will receive the gifts. What a great way to impact someone else! When I was a child, this was something my family did every year. It’s amazing how those memories have stayed with me decades later.

A lot of kids will naturally focus on themselves — that’s just how we’re wired as humans. So it’s your job as a parent to help them understand why we celebrate Christmas and what it really means.

The presents and the food and the days off from school are nice, but in the end, Christmas is about reaching out to those in need and providing them with hope.

Successful people are givers

As I’ve traveled across the country the last few years speaking to thousands of teens and young adults, I’m convinced that the next generation can change our country if they truly get this message.

Because, really, giving at Christmas is awesome, but giving throughout the year — and throughout your life — is even better. By teaching your kids the importance of giving, you’re equipping them for a lifetime of success.

About the Author

Growing up as Dave Ramsey’s kid, Rachel Cruze learned the basic principles of money at an early age. She travels across the country teaching those same principles, in a personal and passionate message of money and hope, to teens and young adults. Rachel’s also the host of Generation Change, a course that teaches teens about money and empowers them with the skills they need to become financially responsible adults. To find out more about Rachel, visit or follow her on Twitter at @RachelCruze.

More about kids giving back

How families can give back this holiday season
Teach kids to give back
Giving back after the holidays

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