The holiday season is fast approaching, and whether you celebrate christmas, hanukkah or any other traditional festive or religious event this time of year, it usually involves at least a little bit of time away from the “hecticness” that we call life. It gives many of us a chance to regroup, recharge and reconnect with family members.
For most kids however, this time of year is synonymous with two things: time away from school and the receiving of presents. In an attempt to offer children a bit more this year, here are 5 life lessons to consider teaching your children this holiday season.
Precursor: As a writer in my mid-twenties with no children, many of you may question my credibility in putting together such a list and rightfully so. I can say however that this list has been put together from my perspective as the 5 life lessons I’m grateful to have been taught at various stages of my childhood.
1. Valuing Presence Rather Than Just Presents
It’s easy for a kid to find value in that new video game or amazing toy that they unwrap, but can they find value in spending time with the person who bought and wrapped it for them? This holiday season use some of your free time to connect with your children, and I mean truly connect by giving them your full undivided attention. Whether it’s time spent playing a game, reading a book or just talking, put your problems, your cell phone and fatigue aside to do something with the beautiful being(s) you brought into this world.
The more you truly connect with them and treat them as you would like to be treated by your peers, the more likely they are to find value in your presence rather than just your ability to give them presents.
2. The Process of Building and/or Growing Something
Rather than passively giving the pre-constructed gift they longed for, consider giving your children a gift that they will have to work at and maintain to fully enjoy. By this I don’t mean the latest unassembled lego set -although don’t me wrong, lego is great -what I mean is something such as a mini indoor garden or model train. Something that will take them time to put together -and possibly maintain -teaching them some constructive skills in the process.
Gifts such as this are also best served with your time and assistance. Build alongside with them, let them make mistakes and problem solve together. If the gift requires regular attention, teach them persistence by helping to keep them on track and show them the value in dedicating yourself to something.
3. Value In Donating/ Sharing
A close family friend of mine has employed a gift giving technique that I’ve always admired ever since having her first child. Every birthday and holiday season she requires her kids to give up a toy that they no longer need for every new one that they receive. Once they select which toys they no longer need, she then takes her children with her to donate them to a local daycare center. At the center they are able to see firsthand the value that other children find in what they no longer need, making the concepts of donating and sharing a tangible part of their life.
Having known these kids since birth and seeing them annually at a family function, it’s amazing to see how much their upbringing sets them apart from the rest of their cousins. Despite still being kids physically, they boast a maturity and level of appreciation that would trump most adults.
4. To Do & Try Rather Than Give Into “I Can’t”
We live in a world where far too many of us let our lives be dictated by the opinions of others. The truth is whether you think you’re ugly, believe that you can’t sing, or see yourself as completely incapable around a set of tools you weren’t born thinking that way. As children we all believe that everything is possible, that’s why so many strive to be astronauts, movie stars and my personal favourite fire engines (yes, my little cousin for several years was insistent on his desire to one day be a fire truck).
Rather than teaching your children what they can and can’t be, let them do and try it out -with your supervision and guidance as necessary. This is of course said within a reasonable and safe mindset, I’m not telling you to leave your kid who wants to one day work with pyrotechnics to play with a lighter and a box of fireworks, but I am saying to let your kid who wants to be a singer, sing! They are going to spend most of their adult lives being told what boxes they should fit into, why kill their imagination and creativity by making them grow in a box in the first place?
5. To Be a Part of Creating Rather Than Just Eating Holiday Meals
No matter what you do or do not celebrate this time of year most of us at the very least engage in one more sizable and thought-out meal. One of the best skills that I am grateful to have been exposed to at a young age was cooking, and the holidays were the time of year where I often found myself most exposed to it. Even though my earliest tasks were often something as simple as rolling balls out of dough, I still learned that eating involved a lot more than simply sitting at the table.
Encourage your kids to get involved in the meal process. Aside from helping them develop valuable cooking skills it will also give them the foundations for developing a lifestyle centered around home-prepared meals rather than one largely dominated by preservative packed fast foods.
What are your thoughts on these 5 life lessons? Do you have any others that come to mind? Feel free to share them via the comment section below.
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