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Burnt Toast Blog

Dec 2nd, 2017

Family Traditions and Giving

by Geeta Bagga

Category: Guest Articles on Parenting Issues

This Christmas be sure to show your children that the season is not about how much you receive, but rather about how much you give. As parents, we ourselves are guilty of going overboard when we shower our children with most of what they ask for. The underlying message this behaviour sends is inaccurate as children are put under the false pre-tense that they can always get what they want simply by asking. This season, why not teach your children that the true value of Christmas is togetherness, sharing and the creation of memories?

In our household, my husband and I try very hard to help our children appreciate that Christmas is about time: time with each other, with friends, and with extended family members. It's all about the gathering as a whole and getting in touch with those who we rarely see. Engaging in activities that generally equate to the formation of memories, is what it's all about for us. After all, these memories are what we rely on in the future to sustain and strengthen bonds. As these memories remain deep in our mind for years to come, they can also be are easily referenced.

Family traditions will be remembered long after that toy has shifted to the bottom of a toy box or after that trinket has been moved from the bottom shelf to the top shelf to collect even more dust. The holidays are an ideal time to start new traditions and begin a lifetime of memories. It is true that money cannot buy happiness but the gift of family traditions is priceless. Here are a couple ways to recreate your fond memories.

a) Honour New Skills. For example, have the smallest child to be lifted to the top of the tree to place the star. Also, after a child learned to read, he or she was allowed to practice this new skill by reading gift tags and passing out presents. b) Start a New Tradition. These are important in a child's development. The most important commodities parents have for their children are time and love, not things. A family tradition can give children the sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. One of the most important developmental tasks for children is to develop a sense of belonging. Traditions aid greatly in that developmental task and at the same time bind the family with common glue.

The secret to happiness is giving. So, why not help your children achieve this level of happiness by learning how they can give back. Effective character development, including the teaching of generosity and giving, must come primarily from the home. Parents and caregivers have primary influence over a child's development, particularly in the formative infant, toddler and preschool years. While your children are young, it is the time to lay the foundation for generosity and giving.

Here are some suggestions to get your children to participate in the act of giving: a) Designate a container in which your children can deposit loose change. When the jar is full, they can donate the money to a charity. b) Ask your kids to help choose a gift for a holiday toy drive. Better still; have them buy it with their own money. c) Have your kids help pack up clothes they've outgrown or toys they no longer play with. And bring the children with you when you give away the old items so they can lend a hand. d) Remember that charity involves gifts of time as well as money. Encourage your children to offer their services (without pay) to run errands or shovel snow for neighbours who are elderly or ill.

Possibly the best gift you could give your children this Christmas is to teach them the value of giving. And what better lesson to teach through practice?

What holiday family traditions do you engage in year after year? What do you do to ensure your children partake in giving process?

Here's wishing you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season for the New Year!

About Geeta Bagga: From Richmond Hill, Ontario, Geeta enjoys being a regular forum contributor for ChildsPlay101. Her work intends to inspire and inform parents of sources covering a variety of topics.

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