What Lessons Can The Holidays Teach Your Child?
There are lots of ways to teach prosocial behavior, but the most effective way is to be a good model. Holidays provide the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how to be a friend. Even if you don't send holiday cards, you probably will receive some and explaining to children the meaning behind the greetings will go a long way to illustrate how friends and family let each other know that they care.
If your celebrations involve gift giving, let your children be involved in making or purchasing presents so that they have a concrete experience with thinking about others in this way. Whether or not the holidays have religious significance for you and your family, there are universals themes of peace, love and connection associated with the season that are important values to impart to your child.
Even though my immediate family will be quite spread out on Christmas Day, we couldn't resist getting a tiny tree to decorate with little scraps of construction paper and a small string of lights. As we were leaving for the holidays, we decided to put the tree out on the sidewalk in our Brooklyn neighborhood, feeling confident that it would be quickly picked up by someone in need in a tree, (and it was).
When my two and a half-year-old granddaughter woke from her nap, she was surprised to see that the tree was gone, but accepted the explanation that we were sharing the tree with one of our neighbors. We talked about how much we had enjoyed the tree while we had it and now another family was going to get to enjoy it. She was excited about sharing and mentioned it throughout the day. We talk a lot about how much we love to share with my granddaughter, and she has definitely picked up on and embraced that sentiment …most of the time.
While there are times that we have to reach out a bit to provide examples of prosocial behavior in our actions, the winter celebrations hand us opportunities to talk to our children about ways to show others that we care. Letting children in on those opportunities is the greatest gift we can give them.
Wishing everyone and their families a joyous and healthy holiday season!