Holidays and Kids

285 HolidayKidsTeach your children the true meaning of the season.

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year. There are parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting”…and toys overflowing? Is the true meaning of the holidays buried within that mountain of wrapped gifts?

With the overwhelming consumer-driven chaos propelled by black Friday and cyber Monday, it’s easy to lose sight of the reason for the season—this is especially true for children, who are the easy targets of marketing campaigns for the latest gadgets and gizmos. It’s up to us to foster a sense of generosity, tradition, and peace in our children. We can create a foundation of holiday meaning for our kids by helping them unplug from commercialism and plug into generosity of spirit.

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Solstice, or something else, focus on activities and traditions that will help your children develop a sense of generosity, compassion, and kindness. You’ll be giving a gift to your children, your family, and your community.

Make family time a priority. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of holiday shopping and parties, but the greatest gift you can give yourself and your family is time well spent together. Schedule several special activities that allow you to connect, laugh, and enjoy each other’s company. This could mean spending an afternoon at the sledding hill followed by hot chocolate; or a special family outing to cut down a Christmas tree; or a night at home playing games by the fire. Create your family traditions for the season and make them your first priority.

Make giving lists. Most kids are quick to sit down and make a list for Santa Claus detailing everything their heart desires. Provide a sense of balance by having your child complete a giving list in addition to his/her wish list. Help them experience the joy of giving by encouraging them to make a list of everything they will give to others during the season.

Volunteer as a family. The best way to help your kids experience the true meaning of the season is to lead them by example. Find an activity that you can do as a family to serve others. You may adopt a needy family for Christmas, feed the hungry at a shelter, or sing Christmas carols at a nursing home. Help your kids connect with their larger community—this will help them learn generosity and also foster a sense of appreciation for their own good fortune.

Learn about other holidays. The holidays are a time of pure magic—full of wonder, peace, and hope. Take time to read and learn about other holidays, religions, and cultures with your children. Help them see that whether a person celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, or something else, each holiday is built on the spirit of peace and goodwill. Encourage a genuine interest in the cultures and traditions of others in order to help your kids become global citizens.

Create a “giving” advent calendar. Make an advent calendar that holds a slip of paper in each pocket. Each day contains a different message or idea such as: call Grandma and make her smile; deliver cookies to a neighbor; make a card for a faraway friend; leave a secret note or picture for someone you love; or shovel the neighbor’s driveway. The element of surprise will foster a sense of excitement for giving. Your kids will be thrilled to follow the instructions each day and will feel a great sense of accomplishment and satisfaction.

Homemade is always from the heart. The best gifts come from the heart. Kids know this intuitively. Encourage your kids to make special gifts rather than shopping for commercial gifts. Homemade gifts are gifts to the giver and receiver—your kids will experience a deep sense of satisfaction and the recipient will appreciate the special, meaningful touch.

Involve your kids in your holiday tasks. Turn on the holiday music and bake cookies together. Spend an evening wrapping gifts together. Let your kids help address your holiday cards. By involving your kids in every aspect of the holidays—rather than just opening gifts—you’re helping them develop a sense of ownership and pride in participating in the season. Treat the holidays as a family event, where everyone is a valuable team member.

Happy holidays! May your family experience the true joy of the season.