Especially at this time of year - when "gimme-gimme" is a common attitude - what can we do to keep our children in check and teach them that giving to others often feels better than receiving things yourself?
The Saturday Early Show asked Dr. Paul Donahue, a clinical psychologist and author of "Parenting Without Fear," to give us some tips on how to raise generous and compassionate children.
An Early Show producer spoke with Donahue before his appearance on the program and he offered these suggestions:
1. Helping in the kitchen. Even young kids can make a real contribution to the family meal. Stir the soup, set the table, help to bake cookies.
2. Older kids can help their siblings: doing homework, reading to them, teaching them sports and games. It's a great way to let kids know they're all in it together, rather than "every man for himself."
1. Be polite to see polite - Parents should always speak respectfully to others: to spouses, grandparents, teachers, babysitters, workmen, waiters. Kids are always watching us.
2. Control your own frustrations in front of your kids - waiting in line patiently at the grocery store, not getting upset when a salesperson makes a mistake, or rolling our eyes at other parents whose kids are misbehaving.
Giving food or clothing is great, but kids get more out of a form of giving that has a personal touch, like visiting an elderly neighbor or delivering meals to families through Meals on Wheels will have a lasting impression on children.
This holiday season, parents may consider reaching out to soldiers fighting overseas. There are Web sites where you can send a gift box directly to a soldier. They like CDs, magazines and DVDs, but what touches soldiers most are letters from children who appreciate what they are doing for us.
Older kids may show an attitude, but they all do want to be helpful. Just give teens and pre-teens age appropriate activities that they'll enjoy.