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Piggy bank versus tzedakah box: Learning to save – and give

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My husband started to hem and haw about the expectations I was setting. I was becoming chagrined at my lack of willpower. Since Simon was 2, my husband and I have tried to downplay materialism and play up the importance of helping others, even while knowing that the concept of charity is hard for a young child.

For Hanukkah a few years ago, we bought him his first tzedakah box to collect coins for charity. I also got him a book about a young boy who regularly collected change to help others. This past Hanukkah, we counted the money Simon collected and went to a grocery store and bought canned goods. As a family, we delivered two bags of food to a local pantry. Since then, I have nudged Simon to add money to his tzedakah box. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t because he prefers to put it in his own piggy bank.

At the pet store, I set the expectations clearly before we walked in, telling him we were there to buy necessities for Squirty.

In the car, as we left the pet store, Simon was persistent. He stopped fussing and tried the polite approach. “Please, can I have a super hero toy? Please, please, Mom,” he said.

I thought of a compromise. “Well, maybe we can count up the money in your piggy bank and see if you have enough for a toy,” I said.

This morning, after breakfast, Simon surprised me by raising the subject again. “Can we count up my money and go to a toy store today?” he asked.

Today is one of the three days he goes to his day-care. “We can count it, but we’ll have to go after school,” I said.

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