As I've mentioned before, teaching my kids to have compassion for others is high on my list of priorities. As a parent, it is more important to me that they are good citizens than they know their multiplication tables. Of course there are lots of big ways to teach kids about compassion through volunteer work, but small, regular traditions, even in the midst of a celebration like Halloween can have an impact.
Take, for example, Trick or Treating. Trick or Treating is usually all about gimme, gimme gimme. (Although it also has a big self-esteem component!) My kids are already discussing the hoards of candy that they will get, despite the fact that I am a mean mom and don't let them eat it. My 5 year old is completely focused on the toy he will get when he hands over his bag of sugar bombs so we can save it for our gingerbread house later on in December.
However, I was quite pleased when my older son casually asked about Trick or Treat for UNICEF. We've been carrying the little orange boxes with on on our Halloween rounds for several years now. Not every house has change at the ready but so many people light up with delight when they see my sons with their orange donation box.
Order your own boxes for free right now so kids can get excited about helping out.
We plan on carrying them around this year again. Since we live in the city it is very easy for us to contribute our donations. There are actually several drop off stations just in the neighborhood, where volunteers collect the money. The personal thank you my kids get as they hand over their donation is important to them. It helps them remember and see that their contribution is appreciated.
An alternative to toting around the little orange donation box is to start an online fundraising page! That way you don't have to rely on your neighbors having spare change when Trick or Treaters arrive on the doorstep.
So, what about you? Will you be teaching your kids to help others this Halloween? What tips do you have for teaching compassion to kids?