This truly is the “most wonderful time of the year” – festive decorations, beautiful lights and familiar festive music. I find it is also a time of self reflection for me. I always take a bird’s eye view back at the year gone by and think about what I did well and what I can improve upon for myself, my relationships and my parenting. While making better food choices and exercising have the top spots year to year on my improvement list, I also grapple with ways to promote generosity and thankfulness in my children. I struggle with the messages given to our children through media and the malls this time of year – it is very easy to equate the concepts of generosity and thankfulness with material things. Below are 3 of my favorite ways to promote generosity and thankfulness of spirit in our children.
1. Promote concrete ways to give.
The holiday season is such a busy time that school can food drives and toy donations sometimes feel like “just another thing to squeeze in”. “Writing a check” saves time and effort but robs us of an incredible opportunity to teach by example. The observation of taking time out of our schedules, going to the grocery store, choosing the cans and carrying them into school is priceless for our children. Creating a family tradition of 1 concrete giving opportunity, whether it be through school, church, or cultural organizations is a wonderful way to emphasize the true message of the season.
2. Expect a “thank you”.
While children are taught to say thank you when they receive a compliment or a gift, we should also teach our children to recognize and thank others for favors completed for them. If we point out instances when someone went out of their way to help them – i.e. a grandparent who changed their schedule to take them to a doctor’s appointment, or dad’s last minute run to grab forgotten shin guards before the big game – it will help them understand the concept of generosity and will promote them to give this same generosity back to others when the opportunity arises.
3. Talk finances when making holiday gift lists.
While altruism is wonderful and giving gifts is very fulfilling, the anticipation of receiving gifts is an incomparable feeling. While wishing “for the stars” is a fun exercise, age appropriate discussions about appropriate choices to put on wish lists that will go to relatives or friends is a great way to teach responsibility and realistic assessment of desires.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Vickery Pediatrics and wishing you all the best in 2018!
A few helpful links: