Loving the Holidays by Encouraging Giving

Tina Feigal, MS, Ed.  Copyright © 2018 Center for the Challenging Child

Have you found that holiday time increases your stress?  Do you look back on your holidays with a sense of loss because you were upset or agitated for most of it?

It doesn’t have to be this way.  Here are some ways to make the 2018 holidays fun for everyone, including you:

As a parent, you may think that it’s your job to make the holidays perfect for your children. I know, I fell into this trap and it wasn’t pretty.  The photos of me in front of the tree when my kids were young told the story. Exhaustion covered my face, my body drooped, and I was not even mentally present for most of the celebration. I fell victim to the myth of a parent’s role being the holiday giver-of-all.

Promise yourself right now to avoid this.  You deserve to enjoy your time just like everyone else. A rule of thumb is “halve everything.”  Go to half the events you get the urge to attend, buy half the presents you think might be needed. Take on half the tasks you thought you might accomplish.  And cut the guilt in half, or even better, quarters.

Most children love the holidays.  You teach them what to love by your actions.  If you shower them with too many gifts, they expect that to be their holiday experience.  If you make huge promises, they expect you to fulfill them.  If you plan extravagant events, they expect them to be the ultimate.

Instead, teach your children present moments.  Let the positive thoughts between you as you plan a fun event mean “holiday.”  Focus on their emotional needs more than on gifts.  Instead of only writing a wish list, have them write a giving list, too.  We need to remember that the best moments are from giving, and this goes for children, as well.  Their emotional need is be valued for what they can contribute.  They may receive gifts that are forgotten within weeks, but giving from their hearts will create memories that last forever.

Do you have an older person in your life who would just love a homemade craft or written message from your child? Could he sing a song for that person?

Do you know someone who is without friends or family this holiday season that could use an act of kindness? Could your child bake cookies for her?

Would you want to volunteer as a family to make someone else’s holiday fulfilling? “Feed My Hungry Children” offers a great way to do this.

Instead of posting a gift opening video on social media, consider posting your kids making someone else’s day with their generosity.

Do not add these items to your to-do list, but instead let them replace what you’d normally do.

Holidays are perfect for building character, teaching your most cherished values, and sharing special moments.  Imagine the thrill of watching your child extending love to someone who may not have had anyone else visit them in the eldercare home.

If you’re thinking, “My kids wouldn’t really do that,” maybe you’re right.  But just maybe it’s time to create the opportunity in a way you haven’t before.  Listen to their ideas and follow up on them. Invite their friends along; generate some buzz by having them over for popcorn and hot chocolate to create gifts or plan a caroling adventure.  This way, they own the experience and you get to enjoy the ride.

Think about the best gift you ever gave. What pops into your mind?  How did you feel?  If you remember it vividly, there’s a message there.  Share your story with your child, and help her create that experience for herself, so she has a wonderful story to tell her children.

I wish you a more peaceful holiday time than you ever imagined, fashioned from scaling back your commitments, focusing on the present moment, addressing children’s emotional needs to be worthwhile to others, and encouraging your children’s giving.

To Truly Happy Holidays!

Tina

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