More than any other time, Christmas may foster an “I Want” attitude in your children. While sharing their wishes with family, friends, and Santa, you may worry your child’s endless list borders on greed.
Many families hope to encourage gratitude and giving each holiday season–fostering the old adage “it is more blessed to give than to receive.” But how do you do this when your children are inundated by the idea that Christmas is about getting what they want?
First, give less.
Limit the gifts you allow Santa to bring as well as the ones under your own tree. By establishing an expectation of less, your children will learn to cherish what they do receive. A simple list many families follow each Christmas is this: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read.
Next, model gratitude.
Children imitate what they see and hear. As much as we hate this when they mimic our bad habits, remember they also mimic the good. Make sure they see you expressing gratitude. A great activity for post-Christmas is writing thank you notes together. You may also want to keep a gratitude list or make a thankful tree.
Also, model giving to others.
Let your children be a part of the joy of giving. Whenever you can, select gifts for teachers, service workers, and extended family members together. Have your children help with wrapping and delivery. But in addition to giving to those we know and love, consider how your family may use this time of year to give to others in need.
Participate in family service projects.
Create a new family tradition of serving at a soup kitchen, packing blessing bags, or collecting blankets for the homeless. The opportunities to serve your community are likely wide and diverse. For ideas, peruse local community websites, newspapers, and church websites. Organizations like United Way are often a good touch point to discover non-profits in your community.
Coupons or vouchers for special things like extra reading together, family movie night, or a themed dinner are fun and keep the Christmas spirit going all year long. Other great ideas for experiences are family memberships to museums, parks, or aquariums. Many families gift large trips for Christmas–such as Disney World–but you can go small too. Season tickets to a local amusement or water park, a play, or a sporting event create lasting memories!
Most of all, as you enter into this season of giving and receiving, may your family value your time together no matter what is under the tree!