Tis the festive season! There is plenty of excitement in the air- the lights, the food, the celebrations, not to mention all of the Christmas treats!
Children often get pretty overwhelmed and caught up in the presents, sugar and late-night get-togethers with friends and family. It’s all part of the holiday season.
We think it’s an excellent opportunity to teach children to understand the gift of giving during the gift-giving season! Although everyone has different traditions and celebrates the holidays in their own way, it’s safe to say that it’s a time that many friends and families unite and spend quality time together.
Regardless of how your family celebrates the holidays, here are some encouraging ways to teach your children positive habits and enjoy spreading holiday cheer! Teaching your children about giving is an excellent way to encourage empathy and show compassion for others. It has many health benefits, promotes self-esteem, positive behaviours and a sense of purpose.
Teaching your children the spirit of giving and modelling kindness is an important way to help them grow into loving members of our community. Demonstrate the importance of giving to others and show them that small acts of kindness can impact someone significantly. It doesn’t need to be anything drastic or fancy. It can be a simple plate of cookies or a homemade holiday craft! These are excellent ways to reach out to neighbours and members of your community that you don’t usually talk to. Think of the people who may be lonely this holiday season and show them you care with a thoughtful gift, kind acts of service and of course Christmas wishes. This could be simply buying someone less fortunate a coffee or taking a moment to hold the door open for a stranger. There are many opportunities in our everyday lives that we could demonstrate acts of kindness! Encourage your children to make a list of things that they want to give or do for other people and slowly tick it off the list over December!
When we think about giving someone a Christmas gift, we often think of something tangible. Giving a Christmas gift can be a simple act of kindness, such as mowing the lawn for the neighbour or donating your time to a charity. Teach your child how to give by giving something priceless—time and energy. There are many ways to ‘give back’ that don’t involve buying or making a present! Here are a couple of great examples:
You can lead by example and explain to them why you are dedicating your time to the specific task and how it will make the person on the receiving end feel.
When you are giving another person a present or demonstrating an act of kindness, talk about how your child feels and ask them how they think the recipient will feel. When you see your children being generous, point it out and praise them, then ask them how it felt! You can help them put that feeling into words and talk about it together. Sometimes, for children to feel compelled to help others, they must recognize that their help is needed. By speaking about the feelings or emotions triggered on both the giving and receiving end, you will help them understand and see the impact.
You don’t want to force the act of giving. Eventually, you want your child to share or give back on their own accord. Introduce opportunities for your child to decide on their own. You might, for example, tell them that you’ve made a plate of Christmas cookies and ask them if they think they would like to share some with their friend across the road and make a delivery together. If they say yes, praise and reward this behaviour!
Perhaps it’s a great time to go through your closet or basket of old toys and donate some pre-loved goods to a local charity. Invite your children to be part of this process. You can wash, pack up and deliver the goods to a charity and explain to them how it’s helping other families. You can introduce this into a monthly routine of donating items or even buying an extra bag of groceries when you’re at the shops to drop off at the shelter.
If you have set aside some time for Arts & Crafts, why not dedicate that time to making thoughtful Christmas cards for family and friends! You can make a list of people you think might appreciate the special wishes, and make them some holiday crafts. This could be for the local barista who serves up babyccinos, the neighbour who lives alone, or a family friend you haven’t seen in a while. Ask your child who they think would appreciate some Christmas cards, and once they are complete, you can deliver them together.
Whether you’re planning a gift exchange or not, we think it’s important to talk about courtesy and reactions when receiving gifts. Mainly how to respond when they are not getting what they want. Highlight the importance of using their manners, even if the gift wasn’t what they expected or wanted. Managing expectations over the holidays can be tricky at times, and practising ‘Thank yous’ can be helpful!
Throughout the holiday season, keep open communication and talk about your feelings together! Your children may be experiencing some new emotions and experiences with all of the excitement, and talking about it can be helpful to understanding it all.
We hope this helps you and wish you all a wonderful holiday season ahead! See you in the New Year!