It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s a song that we constantly hear all throughout the holiday season and is reinforced by the many Hallmark movies we watch and the commercials we see on screen. Social media is also filled with bright cheer and this only shows that as human beings – we have expectations of good cheer and tidings when the holiday season rolls around.
However, not everyone you meet has a positive association with the holiday season. As a parent, you yourself may have faced unmet expectations in your own childhood and this is something that you do not want to repeat in your home.
When it comes to creating a positive environment for the holidays – you do not need a full shopping cart. In fact, creating a positive environment for your home simply begins with you being present with your children while focusing on values that are important in your home.
Focus on connections.
It’s so easy to get lost in the many gifts we give and receive during the holiday season. However, your children will most likely remember the moments they spent with you as opposed to what they received under the tree. Dr. Edward Hallowell, author of The Childhood Roots of Adult Happiness says that, “a connected childhood is the key to happiness.” This is also true for Christmas time.
Yes our children may feel happy when they receive what they have been asking Santa for but they will feel most connected when they open the gifts together as a family. Use the holiday season to make your child feel loved – sometimes it’s a simple as taking them out on one-on-one dates, listening to their stories, and just letting them know that despite the holiday rush, you are there for them and that they are unconditionally loved. This will strengthen and empower your child’s emotional well-being while associating the Christmas season with positive emotions that they will carry on into adulthood.
Welcome and manage all emotions.
Society expects us to ‘be jolly and merry’ all the time during Christmas season. The mistake that we often do is to expect our children (and ourselves) to be happy all the time simply because it’s the holidays. This puts unnecessary expectations on ourselves and our children as well.
As parents, we may have the tendency to want to ‘fix it all’ when our children are sad or angry but we must let them deal with negative emotions on their own to give them a better chance of being emotionally strong when they are older. This means that we let them feel what they are feeling and talk them through it. This way we are helping them develop resilience in a positive way.
We must also remind our children that they are not expected to be happy and joyful all the time just because it’s supposed to be a ‘happy’ season. Give them the freedom to feel what they feel and work through it without the pressure of having to be ‘happy’ all the time.
This way, they are most likely to feel relaxed during the season allowing them to enjoy it even more.
Practice gratitude throughout the season.
The greatest thing you can give your child is the perspective of gratitude. Always practice saying thank you in your home and always take the time to sit down and list all the things you are thankful for. Practicing this while they are young will allow your children to grow into grateful adults and as the popular saying goes, “Thankful people are happy people.”
May you all have a joyful Christmas season with your family.