How to "green-teach" kids that sharing experiences beats owning things

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Teaching kids that sharing life experiences with loved ones and making memories out of it is a key learning to pass on to them. For now and for later in their life. What does this have to do with being and living green? Everything!

Teaching kids to look for experiences rather than things and to own memories rather than stuff will forge their values and make them people-oriented rather than possessions-oriented. Consumerism is lurking around the crib these days, and if we grown-ups don’t pay attention, before we know it, our children (or children in our life) will be living in a perpetual “want” state of mind. What do WE want for them?  That they become all about owning the latest this or the latest that? Do we want them to set their eye on buying things… or on spending quality time with people they love, learn from and whose company they enjoy? Yes, the latter obviously.

A kid’s first time experience is even more critical. Because it will never come back, making it as unforgettable as possible will only help turning its memory into a loved, dear-to-the-child’s-heart one! Green Girl just lost her first tooth. It’s been wobbling for a while so she has been excitedly waiting for this to happen, yet did not really know what to expect. This was the perfect opportunity to share a few life-foundation type of messages with her:

  • The Tooth Fairy tradition- Let kids be kids! Just like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, there’s a time to convey traditions and for kids to dive into the fantasy world of make believe. They’ll hear about them anyway so we might as well embrace them. Plus they develop imagination, encourage creativity (ours too) and are the occasion for a conversation about one’s culture, history and traditions. She had lots of questions about the Tooth Fairy and was especially intrigued by how much the Fairy did know about her life…
  • The meaning of a personal handwritten note- Do you still actually handwrite letters, even just messages? Since it was Green Girl’s first time “meeting” the Tooth Fairy, a personal introduction, albeit in writing, was
    appropriate and perfect to show her why it matters to learn how to write and read at school. With today’s general addiction (dependance?) to computers, cell phones and other tablets, wondering why we should know how to write is a legitimate question… This message had her name on it and was written on her favorite blue color paper. No doubt in her mind it had really been made especially for her…
  • The gift of time- Do you take the time to “make” personal gifts? In an era ruled by gift certificates and other
    fully wrapped ready to gift manufactured presents, anything handmade surely stands out… And the fact that the Tooth Fairy took on her own time to prepare a customized gift when she had so many other kids who had lost a tooth to care for really made an impression on Green Girl. Making your own allows for personalization and uniqueness: the Tooth Fairy used green fabric and blue paper and box, Green Girl’s two favorite colors. No one will ever have the exact same gift, and that made Green Girl feel just as special as she is.
  • The value and use of money- A tricky subject with kids… There is no rush introducing them to money’s overpowering presence in our adults world, but at the same time, the sooner they are aware of its existence, (maybe) the better they’ll be equipped to deal with it? Like so many other things, kids will learn about it at school or via friends, so doing it first at home might be the way to give the event the personal twist you want to instill in it. So there we go, we did add a quarter dollar coin (not pictured here) in the blue box. And we explained to Green Girl how she could store it in her Piggy Bank, along with future coins from future lost teeth to later use it in ways of her choosing. We also made her realize that she had everything she needed so it was nice to be able to save it.

On another level of greenness, making your own is a great way to reuse, repurpose and create. The blue paper box contained a gift received a long time ago and could clearly handle way more than that single use. It has now become a cherished treasure box with a long life ahead of it. The piece of twine string was also from a past gift packaging and the green fabric is leftover from a pair of pants’ cut off hem. The note was written on an unused cut piece of patterned stationary paper.

The little tooth-shaped box is the only item we purchased. But it is not a one-time use plastic toy. It is made out of wood and is meant to store all of a child’s baby teeth, so it’ll be around for as long as Green Girl wishes.

Now that I really think about it, this whole lost tooth experience is really not just a lesson for kids, but one for us grown-ups, to then pass on to kids around us…

Do you tend to rely on what other people put together (for sale in stores) to celebrate special occasions, accomplishments or any other events, or do you tend to give your own unique and personal touch to what you plan on offering?

Maybe you are in the middle and spend more time on a selection of very special events and go with mainstream solutions for others? After all, there are so many occasions and things to celebrate nowadays…. But that’s material for another conversation…

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