Christmas is a magical time. It’s also a time when little people can become big arseholes. Read on for how to avoid creating a total brat this Christmas. Thank us later okay?
We’ve all been there. Your beautifully dressed Christmas angel receives a gift from Aunty Jan. Rips open the wrapping, snatches out the present and simultaneously bursts into tears while hurling the gift across the room. “I don’t want THAT!” she screams as you profusely apologise to your visibly shocked Aunty.
Children are unpredictable – understatement of the century! Add to that, at Christmas they are often extra tired, full of sugar and powering on adrenaline. But there are times we really want them to be grateful, sensitive and polite. Let’s get it straight- we can’t achieve that all the time, but we can tilt the scales in our favour with a few rules about moderation at Christmas.
Look for meaning in the festive season
Try to teach them about the meaning of Christmas. Now for you that may mean the true religious meaning of Christmas, or it may be the encompassing concept of goodwill to all men, acceptance of all, and sharing love and laughter. Either way the aim is for children to understand that the whole season is about love and giving, and being together, and yes, maybe some awesome presents.
Emphasise giving not receiving
Create the tradition and expectation that Christmas is not just about receiving but it is about giving. Help them to achieve the satisfying feeling of watching someone else receive a present and seeing the appreciation they feel when they hand it over to them. This can be as simple as going to the local shopping centre gift giving tree and selecting a card from the tree. Allow your child to assist choosing the present, wrapping it and putting it back under the tree, to make a stranger’s Christmas brighter.
Perhaps if you have any homeless people in your area, or disadvantaged people, you could put together a box to deliver to them personally.
There are some good websites where you can provide for an underprivileged child or village and go through this exercise with your child.
Be careful to make this age-appropriate though. My Dad one year decided that the children were all over-indulged, and instead of a gift for them, bought a World Vision family a goat on their behalf. My very young children really struggled with that concept and certainly were not happy with Grandpa that year! Perhaps this idea is better for an older child who can understand the concept!
Your children will then start to realise that Christmas is bigger than them and their presents.
Encourage being in the moment
Encourage children to slow down and enjoy the moment. Our tradition was always that one person would hand out a present at a time, and we would watch each family member open their present and tell us who it was from. This way the enjoyment of the present giving was spread out over a longer time and everyone knew what each other had received. We were always made to read the card first and thank the giver before we opened the gift. This created in us a greater appreciation for the time someone had taken to buy us something lovely, and gave us the opportunity to thank them.
Drill the expected manners (nobody likes rude kids!)
Finally, the age old requirement and the hardest to teach. At least look like you wanted the present. The appreciative smile through clenched teeth may be the hardest to teach, but we all learn it somehow by adulthood.
Like all good parents be sure to drill those manners regularly and remind little people that whilst it is Christmas bad behaviour will have consequences like every other day!
Regardless of your best preparations, it doesn’t always go to plan. I remember my niece receiving money from her grandfather one year, (yes the same one!) and as she was too young to understand the value of money, she was inconsolable. Grandpa never made that mistake again.
Wishing you a happy, calm and loving Christmas- no matter what happens!