The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

The Giving Season….Not the Getting Season

It is that time of the year sometimes referred to as the “giving” season of peace and good will.  Some parents need to work hard at keeping this holiday season the “giving” season and not the “getting” season and to keep it peaceful and not one full of frenzy.  It helps to begin family traditions early so that children are not disappointed in their expectations.

One suggestion is for the family to have a tradition of giving to each other at least some gifts which have been made and not bought at the store.  Even very young children can make pictures and cards for other members of the family.  Older children can write stories or poems.  The expenditure of money for mass-produced things can not compete with the loving investment of one’s own time and imagination on gift which becomes very personal.

Another suggestion is family presents rather than individual presents.  There are many different kinds of family games on the market.  I recommend cooperative games in which players work as a team.

If you are going to give individual presents, you might want to set a limit on the number of presents a child should expect for Christmas.  There can be a “wish list” made by the child, but it should be understood that the final choice is not the child’s.  Children tend to want everything they see advertised and their lists get longer and longer the closer it gets to Christmas.  Parents tend to feel guilty if they disappoint the child by not getting everything on the list.  Many children are disappointed by getting what was on their list and finding out in reality it was not as advertised.

Parents need to use good judgement in deciding what is appropriate and not appropriate for children, and to stick by their judgements.  This is not an easy task but once children know parents mean what they say, the conflict lessens and the season becomes happier and more relaxed because the focus has changed.  One of the biggest added advantage for families who have the rules understood early, is that parents are not caught up in the frenzy of trying to buy the most popular toys which are invariably sold out.  Also, for some families with a materialistic focus, failure to satisfy a child’s every wish, no matter how inappropriate, means a ruined holiday season.

Gifts chosen for children should not only be age appropriate but also safe.  When choosing for infants and toddlers beware of toys with small objects.  A good source for finding gifts is the Discovery Store.  It is always nice to give a gift which allows interaction between parent and child.

One of the best gifts to give is a  book.  I suggest you inscribe the book with a sentiment which personalizes the book for the child.  You can start to give books to a child at seven months of age.

Every family is unique and special.  I encourage you to keep and perhaps add to the family traditions which enhance this season for your family and to change or discard any which do not.

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