Teach Kids How to Experience the Holidays

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holidaykidsfrontIt’s that time of year again the time for holiday cheer and the “gimmies.”

Parents often find themselves dismayed and distressed that their children seem to be so greedy in December. They walk around asking for all kinds of things with an air of expectation that if they don’t get what they want then they will be very disappointed and the holiday will be a bust.

Parents find themselves worrying, “Did I raise a spoiled brat? Why doesn’t my child enjoy the beauty of the holiday season?”

But greed during the holidays does not mean your child is spoiled. It means you live in today’s commercialized society, surrounded by numerous factors stoking materialism, and have a child who is developmentally susceptible to these types of messages.

It’s normal for children to respond to commercials of all sorts that insinuate each item will be bring you joy and happiness. It’s normal for kids to see what their friends have and want it too. It’s normal for a child to absorb any message from home that more stuff brings more fun and pleasure. But that doesn’t mean that these gimmies can’t get out of control in a way that is not good for your family or your child. That’s because lost along the way is a more balanced view of the importance of gratitude and experiences over things.

Laying the groundwork to help a child develop this more balanced view during the year is especially important. Explain to a child why sometimes we can or cannot get things. Don’t tell them they are bad for wanting it; they aren’t. But do tell them sometimes they still can’t have it and why (like it costs too much, it’s not good for the child, or it’s not something your family values).

Then work to teach your child about gratitude by reflecting on the things you and your child appreciate in your lives especially nonmaterial things. Reflect frequently on the big and little things that you both appreciate having. Avoid spending the year saying that something they want to get should go on their holiday list, because that leads to the dam bursting come holiday time with the expectation that it’s all coming. (Already done that this year? Work to whittle down that list, and aim to avoid making the same mistake next year.)

In the month of December, one great antidote to greed is an emphasis on experiences, which in the long run are far more likely to bring lasting happiness to both your child and your family.

Creating experiential traditions around the holiday can be as simple as baking something together, going to look at holiday lights, decorating together and simply spending time with loved ones. Show your child how experiences which need not cost much at all really are something more valuable than stuff, and discuss your gratitude for time spent together. One tradition can be something where you do give to those less fortunate, which will provide your child with perspective on what they have and also the importance and pleasure of helping others.

Though it may make you angry when your child keeps asking for stuff, avoid scolding and reprimanding with the implication that they are bad. Instead, say you get they want it, but not only do you not get everything you want, but the holiday is about much more than things. Then show them how fun and festive and joyful doing holiday activities together and being grateful for what you have is.

Source: usnews

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