Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.
Over the next four weeks, I will continue to write about the 5 H Plan for Keeping the “Happy” in Happy Holidays. It’s a simple strategy that I hope will assist you to navigate through this time of year.
It doesn’t matter how you celebrate or if you celebrate any of the traditional holidays, this season finds most families dealing with more time constraints and temptations. Our children are bombarded with excessive programming, ads, and store displays geared to lure them into begging their parents for MORE. As advocates for our children, we must be vigilant in protecting them and our homes from the craziness. If you struggle with how to do that, I hope you will remember the tips in the 5 H Plan during the holidays or any time in life when you have additional time demands, family members around, interrupted routines, or are traveling.
The 5 H Plan consists of:
- Healthy Habits (last week’s post)
- Hearts of Gratitude
- Helping Hands
- Having a Hearty Plan
- Hilarious Humor
Hearts of Gratitude
- We must start early if we are to teach our children to be grateful. Asking your children to make a gratitude list before they make a wish list helps them remember how many great things they have. Even if they cannot write words, they can journal by drawing pictures. You can also take pictures of their favorite things, print them out, put them in a book, and let children write about them. With a very young child, go into her room with her, point out some of her favorite toys, and remind her who gave them to her.
- Be a role model and focus on giving rather than receiving. Start with simple, helpful acts of kindness. Being kind to and thoughtful of others is a very important aspect of our own holiday happiness, and even very young children can discover this early.
- Get your children involved in giving to those in your community who are in need. Pick out toys with them that are in good shape but they no longer play with and go together to donate them. They will appreciate their good fortune more by taking action than they will through our lectures.
- Every child can create a gift for the special people in her world. A gift that doesn’t cost anything requires creativity and keeps your child engaged, and handmade cards are a great touch to any gift.
- When children tell you what they want, let them put it on their lists so that they feel heard rather than just saying “No.” They will learn about delayed gratification, and later you can help them prioritize. Children should NOT get everything on their list. A “wish list” is not a “demand list.”
- Children love repetition and want to learn the family’s traditions. Decide before your family gatherings how you will acknowledge gifts and how you will open them. Will you acknowledge who gave the gift and say “Thank you” before or after?
- Set realistic expectations. One of the greatest stressors for adults is finances; and what we know is that children would rather have relaxed, engaged, happy parents than a room full of toys with stressed out, angry, unhappy parents. Toys cannot replace YOU.
The best way to develop a grateful heart in your child is to first nurture one within yourself. It is also good to remember that each act of kindness is important during this time. When your child has an idea regarding an act of kindness, do your best to help her accomplish it. It is difficult to be “greedy” when one is exposed to tremendous needs in others.