"Adopt A Family" with Preschoolers
posted at 11/30/2012 9:53 AM EST
DS's daycare/preschool always does something with DCF for under privileged children this time of year. This is the first year DS has been old enough to help me pick out presents for the name we selected. It always breaks my heart to do this, because seeing what some of these kids ask for just makes me so sad. Some do ask for video games and the like, but most of the requests are coats, boots, books, clothes, etc. - practicalities. This year I ended up choosing a little boy a year older than DS.
I was trying to explain to DS why were going to the toy store this weekend to get something for a stranger and I bungled it so badly I had to call his preschool director and warn her that DS might be informing children in his class that Santa wasn't coming to everyone's house this year.
He's three, which I think is old enough to understand about giving back to others. Anyone have any suggestions how I can explain this to him? I want him to understand how lucky he is, but I also don't want to terrify him about the big bad world yet.
posted at 11/30/2012 11:46 AM EST
I don't think he'll be terrified to learn there are less fortunate people than his family in the world. A simple, non-Santa-centric explanation of the fact that some people are poor and we are blessed to be able to help them ought to cover it. Focus on how good it makes a person feel to share.
posted at 11/30/2012 12:36 PM EST
Do all of his presents come from "Santa"? Maybe, as Kar said, you could leave the Red Suit out of it and focus on that the rest of the family doesn't have extra money right now. I think the simpler the statement the better, probably.
posted at 11/30/2012 1:21 PM EST
I explain it to my kids very simply, less is definitely more - You know how you like to get snacks out of the pantry? Some families don't have any snacks in their pantry. Let's go to the store and pick out some food for their pantry! (that's for food pantry donations)
Something similar for toys - We are so lucky to have lots of toys in our playroom, some kids don't have any. Let's pick out a few to donate to those friends, or let's go to the store and buy them something special.
Lots of detail is confusing, just keep it to the facts, and they'll get it. You're doing a good thing, teaching your kids to be thoughtful and generous.
posted at 11/30/2012 2:51 PM EST
I really like the pantry analogy; it's perfect. I'm also hoping to take him to a Toys for Tots donation center this year, too, so he can see that other people are doing what we are. I'm hoping if I let him pick out the gifts to donate, he'll feel included. I don't want it to be just another errand we run on the weekend, but something special we do together for someone else.
posted at 11/30/2012 3:00 PM EST
If you would like to play along with the Santa story for the sake of the other kids you can say, "Sometimes Santa asks his friends to help."
posted at 12/1/2012 8:45 PM EST
We put money in the Salvation Army pot the other day. I told them it was like a piggy bank for other people. The bell ringer loved it!
And I don't mean to parse words - and I know EVERYONE is using the term these days - but it may be easier if you think of it as giving instead of giving back. I was taught to be generous with what I have - not because I have a lot - but because it is better to give than to receive. It fills your heart with joy to share whatever meager gifts we may have with others.
posted at 12/2/2012 10:01 AM EST
I really like how micromom phrased it.
Also, I'm not sure how much kids understand/know about money, since it's kind of an abstract concept for them, but I frequently talk about the price of things with DD. She knows groceries cost money and we'll only buy pomagranate or avocado if they are not too expensive. She knows that when Daddy works extra shifts it's so we can have extra money to buy things. If your DS knows money exists he might be able to wrap his head around the fact some people don't have enough of it.
posted at 12/3/2012 8:57 AM EST
This weekend we brought an unwrapped toy to the State Police for Toys for Tots. He broke my heart in the most beautiful way by picking out the toy himself, telling everyone at the store why he was getting the toy, then insisting on carrying the toy to the State Troopers manning the booth. He also wanted to go home and get one of his toys to donate as well. On the way back to the car, he asked me if he could have a playdate with the boy whose toy we'd donated. It made me cry, he was so happy.
We still have to buy toys for the preschool program, but the fact he's so excited to do this has made my a ridiculously proud mama. We're going to look for more volunteer opportunities as a family so he can continue to do stuff like this, maybe through our church.