When Kyle turned one, we started an annual charity event. I want it to be a family tradition during Kyle’s birthday that we spend time with less fortunate kids. I know that at age one, Kyle won’t understand what was happening. But I wanted to start while he was young, to lay the foundations for him. It doesn’t matter so much that he doesn’t understand now. But once he’s older and he can understand, I want to have the opportunity to show Kyle the photos and help him appreciate what we did. The main reason I want to do this is to help Kyle realise that he is blessed, but not all kids are blessed the same way. I want him to be exposed to a different world, which will make him realise that how blessed he is.
In Kyle’s second year, we did a special project around my birthday where we donated supplies for school kids. At first, Kyle was saying, “No, no, I don’t want to go!” I had to explain to Kyle that there are other babies there too. These kids, they don’t have mommies or daddies who take care of him like he does. At his age he doesn’t really understand, and asks “They don’t have a mommy? They don’t have a daddy? But I have a mommy, I have a daddy.” It’s really good that he gets to asks these questions and gradually understand that not everyone has the kind of life he has. These projects are a way of exposing him to that reality as early as now. When he grows up, he will have a wider view of the world.
To prepare Kyle for our yearly charity event, I would show him photos of what happened the previous year. I want him to have an idea of what to expect, and what we expect from him. I tell him stories of what happened before or what we plan to do. For example, I reminded Kyle what happened when he was 2 years old by showing a photo of him with a toy. What happened was, we went to a place with a lot of kids that shared one play area filled with toys. When Kyle saw the place, he was so eager to play. I had to explain to him that he had to share the toys with other kids. The toy helicopter he was holding in the photo was a toy that he was fighting over with another kid. Using that story, I reminded Kyle that those kids had to share toys, while he had a lot of his own toys at home. These kinds of stories open his eyes to the things that other kids have to face, like how they don’t have mommies or daddies.
So last year, because I already showed him pictures and told him stories, Kyle was ready and excited to go and help the kids. When we asked him to distribute the school supplies, he gladly did it. And I saw that he wasn’t just doing it because he had to, it was because he wanted to. I had friends come with me to the event and they were impressed – they said that if it had been their daughter, the gifts wouldn’t be given out so willingly. I had to let them know that it took a while for Kyle to be so giving, and this was a huge improvement from the year before. The attitude he was showing then was progress from the year before, when he was fighting over toys. It’s really normal for kids his age to not share things that they really like, and Kyle’s exposure in these events really help in teaching him to be more generous.
Another reason we decided to have charity events is because I want Kyle to appreciate the hard work that we, his parents, are doing. When he sees how other kids don’t have parents that provide for them, he’ll realise just how blessed he is. We don’t want him to grow up thinking that his life and his friends’ lives are the only kind of life there is. Exposing him to less fortunate families will help him appreciate what he has.
How about you, how do you teach your kids to share? What are the limits or boundaries you set for them? Kyle Shares is a project we do every year, but maybe you have other practices or activities that I can also adopt for Kyle. I’d love to hear from you!