There is a sermon by Florence Littauer that was done in the height of the fabulous 1980s. She is wearing a bright, sparkly sweater with a silver box set against a black background, her hair and her nails could be seen from the cheap seats, yet her message was timeless.
Your words can be a gift of encouragement, a tiny silver box filled with love, given freely to those around you.
We all know the power of words, yet sometimes we choose to tear down, or to be withholding with our encouragement. But what example does this set for our children, to limit the generousity of even our words?
There are many ways to instill and encourage charity and gratitude in a Christian Montessori way, especially at Christmastime, but one of the most important is to model charity and gratitude.
Give out tiny silver boxes of encouragement and appreciation throughout your day. When you see your child being kind, acknowledge it; and when you see your child being unkind, give them grace and encouragement that you believe they have the capacity to make better choices.
Florence makes the suggestion of placing little silver boxes around your home, to stop and remind you to dole out some encouraging and uplifting words. I think this is a fabulous idea, and with children it can be taken one step further.
Game 1: Give Encouragement
Wrap up an empty box with silver foil or wrapping paper. Sit down with your child(ren) and have them pass the silver box back and forth, giving kind and encouraging words each time.
Your children will feel encouraged to try saying nice things, while also getting some practice!
Game 2: Say Something Nice!
Wrap up a few ridiculous gifts, like a kitchen sponge, piece of toast, mismatched socks, etc. Have your children take turns unwrapping the gift and saying nice things about what they “received.”
This is a silly game, so have fun with it, but really ground your children in saying genuinely kind things about their gifts. This is a great game for practicing grace, and is particularly good for reminding children that every gift has value. (A lesson they will hopefully remember when it comes to opening up their real presents!)
Game 3: Wrap Them Up!
Another fun and silly game, wrap up (non-sensory sensitive) children with ribbons, bows, and bits of wrapping paper. Then, use sticky notes to attach kind words about that child. Take pictures of their final outfit, and save the sticky notes.
Game 4: Gratitude Box
More of an ongoing dialogue around gratitude than a game. Keep a small box or jar on your dining table and have children add in grateful thoughts throughout the week. On Sunday, empty out all of the notes and read them as a family. (Save the notes for a year-long gratitude journal.)
How would you encourage charity and gratitude in your children for the holidays?