I admire the parents that shop in my store with their children for a birthday gift for the party child, letting them help with the choice. A young child's opinion needs to be valued and nurtured.
This might be the first lesson children learn about giving to others.
The old saying "it is better to give than to receive" is not an easy lesson to learn. Many children have meltdowns during this process and want for themselves. This is where the parental art of patience and understanding can start to teach this kindness to their children.
My respect soars when a parent is able to calm their child and not cave-in to their tears. (I was not successful at this hence my admiration).
My many years of watching these interactions have enlightened my perception. Each and every child has the ability to be kind. As parents we know this. My small steps towards helping my children learn this were different for each one of my three children. Samantha was very shy and extremely bright as a young child, she took it all in very quietly. By the first grade she was helping others in her class that struggled with their lessons. This has continued to be her mission. She tutored in high school, mentored in college and law school and now as a lawyer. Morgan who was extremely artistic from a very young age would have lemonade stands and paint shells and rocks and donate all her proceeds to her special charities. Today she is an artist in New York City and still donates her talents to animal shelters and other organizations while pursuing her career as an illustrator. My son TJ has the ability to get along with anyone. He has been involved with a program for homeless families since he was old enough to play. During a recent fundraiser for victims of hurricane Sandy he kept many children busy with jokes and crafts while their parents were busy.
If we give our children the proper tools to be strong and independent thinkers and doers we have done our jobs. They will follow our lead and be kind to others throughout their lives. It's as simple as helping them to choose the right gift for the right friend and trusting them to deliver it with a smile.
The easiest way for us to instill kindness and community service in our children is to be kind ourselves and allow our children to find their own special way. We can nurture them along that specific path and it might be the greatest journey you ever take. It certainly has been and continues to be for my family.
About: We opened Video On The Ritz in 1984. At that time we carried impulse items related to the movies. The industry changed at a rapid rate and we opened Distinctive Toys inside the Video store in 1994. By 1998 we were a full-fledged Specialty Toy Store that also rented movies. It's been a fun ride, one that will hopefully never end.