The holiday season is consistently filled with both awe and wonder, and hustle and bustle. It’s a season in which we can often find ourselves extremely stressed out from our growing to-do lists. As parents it can be increasingly difficult to stick to routines and often times, in the midst of the craziness, children’s behavior can begin to suffer. Regardless of the stress, it’s important to stick to the values and manners you’ve already worked hard to teach your children. Here are a few ways you can use the holidays to do just that:
One of the hardest things to teach a child is gratitude. It can be easy to instruct them to say “thank you,” but it’s often more difficult than a simple word to help them understand the meaning behind it. Besides saying “thank you” to grandma or grandpa for a gift, start a family tradition of writing thank-you cards to family members who send gifts. This simple act can put a lot of meaning behind the season and the lesson involved. Gratitude can also be extended to a message of encouraging your children to kindly say “thank you” when given a gift, even if he or she doesn’t particularly like the gift.
Sometimes you have children who are more than happy to help with holiday parties, others need a little bit more nudging. Besides the typical household preparation, there are several activities that children of all ages can participate in to be helpful. Allow children to help take guests coats and put them in a designated bedroom, or at the very least, allow them to be a greeter. Children can also be helpful during parties by directing guests to the restrooms or dining room or helping to pass out napkins or other light, unbreakable or not messy item. You could also ask older kids to help serve beverages or appetizers or come up with low-key games and activities. For children that are more vocal and participatory, asking them to help prepare the menu or give input into the details can also give them a sense of ownership and pride of the event.
Being polite and courteous can be particularly taxing on a rambunctious child who is most certainly busy being overstimulated by gifts and cookies. Allow your child to ease into situations by letting them know what will take place during the day’s events. Asking them to make and maintain eye contact when interacting with family members is an easy way to teach them to engage and keep focused. Requesting that they oblige for hugs from grandma or a great aunt is also an easy way of practicing courtesy and politeness.
Just as courtesy can be difficult when children are overstimulated, patience can also be a virtue that’s not easy to practice. The situations when it seems most difficult can also present the largest opportunity for practicing patience. If you and your children are at a holiday gathering where gifts are given, or simply opening presents with siblings, patience and taking turns opening and acknowledging each gift can help put patience into place. This can also be true during special meal times that involve ceremony or multiple courses. It’s a great time to teach children appropriate times to sit still temporarily.
Captain McFinn and his Friends help kids become good people by using these positive pro-social skills. Looking for opportunities to teach valuable lessons in everyday situations is a great way to apply them and helps children understand them more easily.