By Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea
The holiday season is a time to celebrate and spend time with family and friends. For those who celebrate Christmas and Hanukah, it’s also a gift-giving season. The holidays can bring out the “gimmes” in some children. With a focus on gift giving, kids are asked “what do you want for the holidays?” and “what do you hope to get for Christmas/Hannakah this year?” Society as a whole is focused on shopping and acquiring the right gifts for everyone on their list. Kids can barely sleep on Christmas Eve as they think about the excitement of waking up to a load of gifts under their trees. We all tend to get a bit “wrapped up” (pun intended!).
So how do parents slide the scale from the gimmes to the gives? Here are some tips:
- Focus on gratitude – people who take the time to reflect on all that they have to be grateful for tend to be more optimistic and happy. Gratitude jars, listing 3 good things and why each day and gratitude journals are all ways to stay focused on the good things kids already have in their lives and not just on the toys and games that kids want.
- Play imagine if… – ask kids to truly imagine what would it be like to not have enough to eat or proper clothes for the weather or a place to live. Some kids might not realize that there are people who are homeless or who live in shelters. Helping out at a charity is a great way to show them the benefits of altruism for everyone. Those whom they help will be better off and the helpers get a mood booster too.
- Toy drives – encourage your child to include a list of toys and games to donate to a toy drive. Ask
them to help out around the house to earn money to those toys and have them physically walk in to drop the toys in at the drive.
- Random acts of kindness – many of you might have seen Donna’s video to share a smile. Think about what type of random act of kindness your child could do. Several websites create monthly calendars with ideas for acts of kindness.
- Secret Santa – have your child make a gift or an ornament and leave it in someone’s mailbox. I belong to a Facebook group where one woman “scarf bombed” a church and a homeless shelter. She made each scarf by hand and left a note on each one that the finder of the scarf was welcome to take it. I can only imagine how excited she felt to leave those precious handmade gifts for strangers to enjoy.
This holiday season, we hope that your children can take a moment to think of someone less fortunate and get the happiness boost that comes when the “gimmes” turn into the “givees”.