We live in a material world. And no matter how hard we try to teach our kids that Christmas or Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holiday celebrations are about more than time off, goofing around and getting presents, the world outside conspires against us.
Luckily, all is not lost. Miracles can happen. We can turn our kids into thoughtful, giving and conscious beings that are more interested in filling their hearts with love than their proverbial stockings with gifts.
Try these steps to make the holidays mean something real for your kids, something that grows their hearts.
Learn How Other Cultures Celebrate
Don't only talk about your holiday traditions, explain to kids how other cultures view and practice the holidays. This is a good way to get our children to see how other cultures celebrate, especially in other countries where the gift craze is not so prevalent. Get hands on and meet with someone who celebrates holidays differently than your family, learning the true meaning behind each holiday. After, try a making a craft or reading a book with your children to help explore the new traditions even further.
"A project doesn't need to be on a grand scale to impact those intended to benefit from it or those who are participating," explains Dr. Amy D'Unger to PBS.
The holidays are an excellent time for teaching kids the importance of giving back to the community. Whether taking part in a toy drive, volunteering a food shelter, or making care packages for military personnel, experts say there is no act to small when it comes to charity. "A project doesn't need to be on a grand scale to impact those intended to benefit from it or those who are participating," explains Dr. Amy D'Unger to PBS.
Encourage an Attitude of Gratitude
One of the simplest ways to teach kids to appreciate the true meaning of the holidays is to encourage them to be thankful for all that they have. Studies suggest that children who practice gratitude may reap tangible benefits, including having better grades, experiencing less depression and envy, and having an overall more positive outlook on life.
Skip the Gifts
Although it may be hard for kids to accept not waking up to a pile of wrapped presents, not giving children Christmas gifts is a great way to train them to see past the materialism of the holidays to see the true meaning of Christmas and other gift-giving traditions. If forgoing all gifts seems unreasonable or even cruel, cut their gift amount in half and use the extra money to have the children pick a charity to donate in their name.