Susan C. Stone's Practical Parenting Blog dotcom

What Your Children want for the Holidays

Posted on: December 3, 2011

As the holidays approach, most parents are scrambling to buy an abundance of the latest and hottest  gift items their children have requested or would enjoy. As parents we get almost as much pleasure – or more –  watching the delight our children experience as they open up their packages!

This is all great fun, but it misses some wonderful opportunities to parent well and to make the holidays meaningful and joyous for your children in other ways. It’s important to recognize that what children treasure is time with you and the family in a festive mode. As well, some of the greatest excitement children experience around the holidays is the anticipation of  GIVING and not just RECEIVING! Yet the majority of families don’t focus on these important elements. Here are some ways to get your children involved in the holidays that will both excite and delight them:

1. To truly capture the spirit of the season,  family time and traditions are a must.  Begin traditions of special activities for the whole family that take place around the holidays. Anything you do together each year will count. It can be baking, decorating, playing special games, traveling or visiting with relatives and friends. In the end, special time with you engaging in holidays rituals is what children crave most of all and what they’ll remember as adults.

2.  Be judicious in how many presents you buy for your own children and how extravagant they are. Don’t try to compete with other parents and remember that your children will receive presents from grandparents and friends as well.

3. Consider presents that avoid the materialism that often goes with the holidays. For example, give children coupon books for  “a trip to the yogurt store”, “an activity alone with you”, “an extra bedtime story”, “making cupcakes”, etc. These are a real hit!

4.  Very importantly, use this season to teach the values of reciprocity and generosity by including your children in gift-giving. And this does not mean spending your money on gifts so they can pass them on to others! One way is to have your children clean out the toys they’ve outgrown and donate the ones in good shape to needy children. Older children can spend a bit of their allowance to buy a new toy to donate to Toys for Tots. If there’s any way they can visit a shelter and deliver toys directly to other children, they’ll learn valuable perspectives about the blessings they have and the blessings they can bestow.

If you really want to see holiday excitement, have your children – no matter how young – make something to give as gifts to their  family members.  It can be a small pot which they paint and decorate and put a plant in, a bag of cookies you bake together, colorful felt covers that they glue on the front of inexpensive telephone books, a frame they decorate with  macaroni and you spray with gold paint, etc. Believe it or not, your children will be more excited to give out these presents than they are to receive their own. Watch the joy they experience in not just receiving but in giving !


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