Balancing Giving and Taking
The idea of giving and taking comes naturally to our kids. They are prewired to get their needs met any way they can and are usually pretty tuned in to giving back as well. Similarly babies' smiles and giggles are delivered in return for affection. (Who doesn't love a good baby giggle?)
It is helpful however, to begin to teach children to be more mindful of this space as they get older. Being self centered is an important childhood skill. Developmentally this is not something to try and deprogram or shame out of them. Instead, inviting children to have gratitude and to find how good it feels to give allows them to create a natural relationship with balanced giving and taking.
IT FEELS GOOD TO GIVE
Kids who learn to give learn how good it feels to give. Often we forget to give them opportunities to give. We are moving too fast or we are so focused on our giving to them, we forget to give them opportunities.
Find small ways to allow your child to give, authentically, to others. You can make gentle suggestions on what they can give, but also notice where they are already naturally giving and call mindful attention to it with your own gratitude.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF RECEIVING
It feels good to receive, but sometimes we accidentally give kids the impression that it's a bad thing. For example, our child got upset about something while getting ready for school while we are making their breakfast. Then when we say "I made you breakfast," we may be accidentally implying that breakfast should make up for what they're upset about.
Be aware of implying to your child that if they receive something good, they should then be happy all day or that that gift discounts any bad feelings they may have.
Notice where you might be sending the message that receiving is not okay or should be returned as a favor in the future.
I have many clients working to restore the ability to receive because they have been taught that receiving is selfish or greedy. It leaves their loved ones feeling like they can't do enough for the person. It also leaves that person feeling undeserving and unable to give as much as they want to.
As always, balance is a dance and mindfulness helps us bring more awareness to this balance.