As the holidays approach, parents tend to have an almost universal desire to spread joy, make memories, and give great gifts to their kids. Our kids are often on the receiving end of various parties, snacks, and gifts. Because of this, the Christmas season is an easy time of year for kids to develop an entitlement mentality. We want them to be kind, compassionate, and caring but instead, they can tend to have an “it’s all about me” spirit.
So, what are parents to do? Should we throw our hands in the air and give in to the greed? Is there any way that we can fight back against this insidious “desire for more” which can grip the hearts of our kids?
Fortunately, there are substantial things that we can do to help our kids realize what Christmas should be all about.
Here are 9 Tangible Ways to Help our Kids Be Kind Around Christmas:
1 – Recognize those who serve our community
Make and prepare homemade cookies for local police or fire department. These heroes serve us week after week and doing something nice for them helps our children to recognize and appreciate their service to our communities.
2 – Who can we serve?
Brainstorm with your kids and see if you can come up with a service project you can work on together. This can be something that benefits your family, your church, or your neighborhood
3 – Say no
Don’t give your kids everything they want. We were pretty broke when my boys were small. So, we got into a routine of only buying them things on their birthday and at Christmas. We felt badly about it – but they never asked for things while walking around in the store, they didn’t whine or complain about wearing hand-me-downs, and they learned to be content with what they had at a pretty young age.
4 – Shop for each other
It’s natural for kids to think about what they want to RECEIVE for Christmas. Make sure they are also thinking about what they want to GIVE to others. Our family has a tradition where we all go to an inexpensive store and my husband and I split up so that our boys have the opportunity to buy a gift for each other as well as for us. The boys make their purchases and we stow them in the trunk under a blanket. Then, we switch kids and do it all over again. My boys have come to treasure this time when they get to purchase items for others.
5 – Navigating gift giving
No matter how well you’ve prepared your kids for Christmas, when the big day arrives they WILL be receiving presents. Be sure to savor this time as a family. Have your kids take turns opening one gift at a time. Give necessities such as socks, underwear, pajamas, etc. Make it into a fun tradition so that kids are happy about receiving these things rather than being upset and wanting all toys. If you’ve been intentional about raising kids with grateful hearts, then you should be able to enjoy this time of giving to them and having them be grateful for whatever they receive.
6 – Work in a soup kitchen
It’s important that our kids recognize how much they actually have. One way for them to realize this is for them to be around people who have less than they do. Have your entire family volunteer in a soup kitchen, serve a Thanksgiving meal for the less fortunate, or adopt a family in need around the holidays. Be sure your kids are intimately involved in the entire process. One year, our family adopted a family in need and purchased all of their Christmas presents for them. My boys were surprised that when they could have asked for anything at all as presents, the kids had asked for shoes and clothing. We all delivered the gifts to their house and they were extremely grateful for what we had done. That is an experience that none of us will soon forget!
7 – Shop at thrift stores
If we buy our kids all new and name brand clothing, they can easily develop an entitlement mentality. Show your kids how many shirts they can buy at Salvation Army for a certain amount of money versus a department store. Let them see you being thrifty with your clothing as well.
8 – Cultivate gratefulness
Cultivate the habit of having each family member share the 3 best things about their day. Good times to do this are at dinner or bedtime.
9 – Pay it forward
Make it a practice to pay it forward when your kids are watching. Pay for the order of the person behind you in the drive-thru lane or in the checkout lane. Let others with smaller carts go ahead of you in line. Smile at strangers. When you’re driving, let other cars into your lane cheerfully. Remember the golden rule and make sure your kids see you following it.
It’s always busy this time of year. Try to choose one or two tangible things you can do this year to teach your kids kindness and that the world doesn’t revolve around them. When we’re intentional about passing this attitude on to our children, not only will our families benefit but so will the rest of the world around us.
Do you find that your kids become more greedy around the holidays? Have you found ways to keep kindness in your children’s hearts? Please leave a comment below.