Moments of Meaning During the Holiday Rush
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To begin, the gift-giving (and receiving) season doesn’t mean you are required to say yes to every gift your child demands. Limit the number of presents your child can request, or limit the dollar amount if your child is saving for something big.
In addition, if your child receives a gift that he doesn’t like, suggest that he donate it to a toy drive rather than exchange it. Or instead, in advance of the holidays, plan with your child that a small amount of her saved money (or gift money) can be used to purchase a gift for a toy drive.
Next, at the beginning of the holiday season, pick a charity your family will support. Spend the year collecting for that charity; the amount doesn’t matter. For example, donate a percentage of a bake sale profits, or part of an allowance or babysitting earnings. Throughout the year remind your child that this is the true spirit of the holidays.
This last suggestion is secretly a gift to you. Have a family meeting where you agree to a negotiated number of family meals during ‘the season’ that are free of the usual bickering, arguing and fighting over seats, elbows, who was talking first, and everything else. After all, part of the holidays is about peace, right? If necessary, put dates on the calendar so no one will try to renegotiate later. If you traditionally attend a family holiday meal that is typically stressful, you might consider making this one of the dates.
DR. SUSAN BARTELL is a nationally recognized child, teen and parenting psychologist and award-winning author. You can learn more about Dr. Bartell at www.drsusanbartell.com.