3 ways to help your child think about others over the holidays

Wow, the year seems to be speeding past. I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a very challenging year. From Covid to virtual learning to politics, we could all use some good cheer right now. With that in mind, December’s theme is generosity. Given the challenges of the world in which we are living, we need generosity and kindness more than ever.

Generosity and giving to others are important social and emotional values that we can teach our kids by strategically focusing on activities that you can do together, and through your own examples of giving. Take this month as an opportunity to help your child understand that we can derive joy just from being nice to others. One of my favorite sayings is: “It’s nice to be nice!” Download our December calendar for fun activities to do with your child. Here are three things to get you started:

Model generosity: We can teach our kids a lot just by showing them what to do. Make a point of giving small gifts during the day to your family or friends. Make them a special snack, pay for their coffee at the café, buy them small gifts for no reason. Giving doesn’t only occur on holidays: Make giving a year-round practice! You can also model generosity to others without expecting anything in return by making holiday gift bags for homeless people in your community that include warm socks, hand sanitizer, and packaged snacks, then dropping them off at a shelter. You could also donate warm blankets to your local pet shelter, or toys to your local children’s hospital.

Think about others: Talk about family members and friends with your child, discussing each one and what kinds of things they enjoy. You can make a list and then compare the things others like to the things that your child likes. Part of perspective-taking is being able to understand that other people don’t necessarily like the same things we do. You might try saying, “Oh, Kyle really liked that Marvel movie, didn’t he? You like Star Wars better, but Kyle likes Marvel. Let’s write that down and think of a present that is about Marvel characters. I’ll bet that will make him so happy!” You can also have your child interview members of the family to find out what kinds of things they like or what things they wish they could receive for gifts.

Change the focus: Sometimes it’s easy for kids to get so focused on the gifts they will receive or give that it’s easy to start thinking that holidays are only about material things. Make an effort to find activities that fit with the season and incorporate these with your family. For example, you might make big mugs of hot cocoa on a chilly night. Talk about the warmth of the cocoa and the sweetness of the marshmallows, and about how this feels like a very wintery activity. Light scented candles in your home, and talk about how the nice smells make you feel the holiday spirit. Listen to holiday music from different cultures, as you discuss the different holidays that people celebrate around the world. Make a “Twelve Days of Gratitude” calendar where you and your child come up with a list of winter or holiday things that you both appreciate. This is also a great way to build new family traditions.

For more activities related to giving, check out the December calendar. It has a whole month’s worth of enjoyable and helpful activities designed to build social and emotional learning while having holiday fun!

 

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