Advertising
Advertising

7 Ways to Make the Holidays Special for Your Children

7 Ways to Make the Holidays Special for Your Children

This time of year can be challenging for any parent. As schools, businesses, churches and communities everywhere are gearing up to celebrate both Thanksgiving and Christmas, the days and weeks ahead can become crammed with activities that will wear out any child and their parents.

But a conscientious parent will search for ways to teach their children the true meaning of the holidays, so they don’t get lost and confused by the commercialism promoted by retail stores.

Instead of focusing on the self-absorbed attitude of deciding what they want to get out of it, (like how many toys will Santa bring me) maybe you would prefer that your child learn about why we celebrate these holidays to begin with.

Here are some simple things you can do to help your child learn the traditional meaning of the holidays, while giving them something they can treasure about the upcoming events.

Advertising

1. Bake something

This is one of the easiest ways to show your kids what a special time the holidays are.  You can teach them how to bake cookies. Maybe you can pass on an old family recipe, as you show them step-by-step how to do it. Of course, with younger children, you will need to take precautions, and show them how to be safe when using sharp instruments and doing things near hot ovens.

Pink Sherbet on flickr

    2. Find magic in the holidays

    Wherever you live, your children should be able to see the splendor of all the lights and trees and decorations that are put up in your area. Maybe you can take them to see a water fountain in a park nearby that is illuminated at night by colorful lights. Just going for a drive in the car to see how other people decorate their houses and put up lights, or a trip to the city for a festive event can be a fun outing for them. And the joy that you express over the holidays is something your children will see and appreciate along with you.

    Advertising

    by DncnH at Flickr

      Alisha Vargas at Flickr

        3. Make something

        Here is one of the easiest things for any child to do, because there are so many different kinds of crafts they can try. You can help them by coming up with creative ideas. They can make different things for Thanksgiving and then other types of things for Christmas. Each child should be able to make something all by themselves, or with a little bit of your help, that they can give to someone else, like a friend at school or daycare. Or, they may find it fun to just make it and give it to you.

        Terren in Virginia at Flickr

          4. Help someone in need

          One of the most important and valuable lessons any parent can teach a child is for them to learn how to do something to help others. Whether it is helping a friend do their homework, or helping an elderly person with yard work, doesn’t matter. What really matters is that they learn to give some of their time and energy in a way that will help someone else. They learn to give, rather than take. And, in the process, they will learn to value how it makes them feel good inside to do it.

          Advertising

          Torrey Wiley on flickr

            5. Learn holiday songs

            Much of the fun during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays comes from the joyous sound of people singing. Maybe you can spend some family time singing songs while gathered around the firepit in the backyard. You can teach your children how to sing or play some of your favorite and traditional songs, or you can take them to an event where there is singing and or dancing. The viewing of cultural events during the holidays is something that every child should have an opportunity to do. Even if you are away from home and  traveling with your children, you can still sing holiday songs with them wherever you are.

            6. Write what it means to them

            As your children grow from toddlers to school age youngsters, an important part of their learning, is learning how to express themselves. You can make plans to have family discussions about the meaning of the holidays and they can talk about their feelings, or share their ideas. Writing them down in a notebook or in cards to mail out to friends and family is a great thing to teach your children, that they can carry on throughout their lives.

            Advertising

            Photopin

              7. Take them to a holiday movie

              Going to a holiday movie with your child is another fun thing to do this time of year. There are usually a few animated Disney movies that come out in the winter time, especially for young people. Going to a movie will show your children that they can enjoy doing things with you that will benefit them. This can be one way that they learn to enjoy doing things that are fun and important to them, and not just having to always do what grownups do.

              Watching a movie can spark their imaginations and creativity and show them what a fun time they can have with the family.

              Taber Andrew Baln at Flickr

                You may find the holidays a lot more enjoyable if you remember  these 7 simple ways to have fun with your kids. When they get a chance to bake something, look for joy, make something, help someone in need, learn holiday songs, write what the holidays mean to them, and enjoy a favorite holiday movie, they will probably come away with more of the magic of the season and less of the materialism.

                Featured photo credit: Ambuja Saxena at Flickr via flickr.com

                More by this author

                Karen Bresnahan

                Photographer/Writer/Artist

                14 Fun Ways to Give Cash at Weddings, Parties and on Holidays 13 Ways to Handle Grief After the Loss of a Loved One 9 Unforgettable Things My Mother Taught Me couple at sunset 20 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ With Photos 3 Easy Ways to Shake the After-Holiday Blues

                Trending in Child Education

                1 Research Finds The Effects Of Homework On Elementary School Students, And The Results Are Surprising 2 5 Tips For Teaching Money Management To Children 3 If You Want Your Kids To Be Successful, Don’t Protect Them In This Way 4 Helpful Things Your Child Should Learn Before They Turn 18 5 The Lessons Chess Can Teach Your Children

                Read Next

                Advertising
                Advertising
                Advertising

                Published on December 20, 2019

                Is Authoritarian Parenting Good or Bad for Your Child?

                Is Authoritarian Parenting Good or Bad for Your Child?

                Kate sits down to the dinner table and is eager to be a good girl and eat her dinner like her Mom and Dad want her to do. She is a sweet girl who wants the approval of her parents very much. It is not always easy though. During dinner, she stands up and starts to leave the table because she has to use the bathroom. Her Dad yells at her to sit back down. He tells her “we don’t just get up from the dinner table, we wait and ask to be excused after everyone is finished eating.” She begins to protest, wanting to explain that she needs to use the bathroom. Her father becomes more upset with her and yells at her that she is now talking back and she is not allowed to say another word at the dinner table until everyone is finished eating and then she can be excused.

                Unfortunately for Kate, she can’t hold it, and she has a little accident because she is too fearful to say a word to her Dad. She doesn’t want to get yelled at anymore. She also knows that in her home, kids don’t have a say. What Mom and Dad say is like words carved into stone. They are strict beyond reason and they will not bend their rules. Therefore, Kate felt that she had no choice in the matter and when she could no longer hold it. There was nothing she could do about it.

                Kate’s parents are an example of authoritarian parenting. They are strict, they are not emotionally engaged with their children, and they have very high expectations for their children. This type of parenting style leaves children feeling disconnected from their parents.

                Kate wanted to communicate to her parents that she had to use the restroom, but she couldn’t even get her words out because her parents have such strict rules and demands of her. They did not care to hear what she had to say, because upholding their rules was more important to them. In their household, a child’s opinions and feelings do not matter.

                This kind of strict parenting is not helpful for children. It can damage a child and leave them with low self-esteem, mental health issues, and doing poor academically among other problems cited by research in Parenting Science.[1]

                What Does Authoritarian Parenting Look Like?

                In the 1960’s, a researcher and theorist by the name of Baumrind established the well known theory of parenting styles. Those four parenting styles, which are well known today, are authoritarian, authoritative, passive, and neglectful. For proactive parents that are trying hard to be good parents, they will usually lean toward either authoritarian or authoritative.

                Authoritarian parenting involves strict parenting and high expectations for children. This can sound reasonable and even like good parenting. However, the strict parenting is often characterized by lack of compassion toward the child, little to no flexibility in rules, and complete control sought over the child’s behavior.

                Advertising

                Parents who use this parenting style believe it is their job to control the will and behavior of their children. An article in Psychology Today explains how authoritarian parents operate:[2]

                Authoritarian parents believe that children are, by nature, strong-willed and self-indulgent. They value obedience to higher authority as a virtue unto itself. Authoritarian parents see their primary job to be bending the will of the child to that of authority—the parent, the church, the teacher. Willfulness is seen to be the root of unhappiness, bad behavior, and sin. Thus, a loving parent is one who tries to break the will of the child.

                For example, Jake has authoritarian parents. He wants to stay out past curfew on a school night because he has an opportunity to play in a jazz ensemble. He has been playing the saxophone for years and his ambition is to play in a college jazz ensemble.

                With Jake still being in high school, his parents have a curfew. On school nights, it is 8:00 pm. This rule is instituted because his parents believe they need to ensure that Jake gets his school work done each night and that he needs to be well rested for school the next day. However, they don’t explain the why of their rules to him, they simply tell him that those are their rules. The jazz ensemble is practicing at 8:00 pm on a Thursday night and they have invited Jake to come play with them. It is a well known group and a huge opportunity for Jake.

                Unfortunately, his parents say no. Their authoritarian parenting style is unwavering. He wants to discuss the opportunity and its importance, but his parents will not even entertain the conversation. They stop him mid-sentence and go over their rules again. There is no flexibility.

                If Jake’s parents had been authoritative, they would have taken the time to hear out his case and would likely have granted him a later curfew for that one instance. They would see that, although they have a curfew, there are some instances when an opportunity is worth bending the rules. They would ask that he has his homework done before going to play with the group, and that he come home as soon as the practice was finished.

                Authoritative parents have rules, but they are also flexible based on reasonable requests for exceptions. The authoritative parents are interested in how their children are thinking and feeling. Conversely, authoritarian parents are not likely to be interested in hearing their child’s thoughts and feelings, because they want to control the will of their child, not come to some middle ground.

                Advertising

                Here are some characteristics of authoritarian parenting:

                • They have strict rules that are unyielding and unwavering. This is often called “heavy handed parenting.”
                • They do not want input from the child about rules. They also feel that the child’s opinion does not matter, because they are the parent thus are the supreme authority over the child.
                • There are severe punishments when rules are broken.
                • There is an emotional disconnection between parent and child, because the parent is not interested in what the child thinks or feels. They are more interested in controlling the behavior of the child and having the child be compliant to their rules.
                • Children are expected to listen to their parents and follow the rules, there are no exceptions. A child that voices their objections will likely be punished for doing so.
                • The parents have high expectations, especially when it comes to compliance of their rules.
                • Parents expect that their child will be obedient and they do not need to explain the “why” of their rules and expectations. Compliance is expected out of sheer obedience, not because the child understands the reasons why the rules are set. Parents do not feel the need to explain why they set their rules.
                • There is a failure to have attached relationships between parent and child because of the overly dominant nature of authoritarian parents and their unwillingness to allow their children to have their own voice or free will.

                Authoritarian parents are driven by a belief that they need to control their children. This means controlling their children’s behavior to an extreme. They are inflexible and don’t take into account the child’s desires, emotions, or well-being as being as important to enforcing rules to get the desired outcome. Authoritative parents on the other hand, seek to guide and direct their children instead of control. There is a distinction.

                The Problems of Authoritarian Parenting

                Authoritarian parenting has many negative consequences to children. Children who are raised in homes with extreme authoritarian parenting are more likely to become dependent on drugs and alcohol, have lower academic performance, and increased mental health issues according to Parenting for Brain.[3] Children who are raised with authoritarian parents are also more likely to have lower self esteem, inability to make decisive choices, and have social skills that are lacking.

                When a child is raised to be taught day in and day out that their voice does not matter, then that child will likely be ingrained with that belief. They will not value their own opinions because they have been taught that what they think does not matter and is of no value. This leads to poor self-esteem and low self-worth.

                If a child doesn’t believe that their thoughts matter, then what they think about themselves overall is going to be affected. They will not think highly of themselves or believe that what they think, say, or do is of value. This will contribute to low self-esteem long term.

                Social skills will suffer because a child who comes from an authoritarian home will be trained to believe that nobody wants to hear their opinion and that relationships are based on compliance.

                For example, Judy is raised in an authoritarian home. She is now 18 years old and has her first boyfriend. Anytime that he asks something of her, even if she internally disagrees, she feels that she is supposed to comply and do what he says in order for him to like her and continue wanting to be with her.

                Advertising

                He wants to have sex. She does not feel that she is ready, but she will not voice this to her boyfriend because she doesn’t think that her opinion will matter or that he will want to listen to what she is feeling. She goes along with sex in their relationship to be compliant. She doesn’t want to be punished by disagreeing with not having sex. He says that they are ready for that next step in the relationship and she fears that the consequence of saying no would be that he ends the relationship.

                Therefore, she doesn’t even voice her thoughts or feelings on the situation because she doesn’t think they have value or will be heard anyway.

                She has been taught by her parents that her opinions and feelings don’t matter. She has learned from the past 18 years with her parents that what matters most is that she is compliant. She gets along with her parents best when she is doing exactly what they want her to do. This is why she feels the need to do the same with her boyfriend.

                Going along with his decisions, being compliant, and not voicing her feelings will keep the relationship going and avoid conflict or punishment. The ultimate punishment in her mind would be that he ends the relationship.

                With her opinions never being valued by those who she has loved the most (her parents), she has learned that she should not voice her opinion if she wants to keep the other person in the relationship happy. In her mind, because of how she has been raised, compliance overrides all else, and her opinion is meaningless.

                However, her boyfriend is not her parents. He is understanding and would want to know how she feels. He wants a long term relationship with her and he loves her so much. His true desire is for her to be happy. He would never want her to have sex if she wasn’t feeling the same way that he was feeling. He would gladly wait and would want to hear what she thinks and feels about taking their relationship to the next level.

                Authoritarian parenting methods can inflict great harm on a child. The child becomes emotionally damaged because they grow up believing that their opinions, thoughts, and feelings do not matter. Instead they are taught that compliance and being obedient supersedes all else.

                Advertising

                The Solution

                The solution is to move from authoritarian parenting methods to authoritative parenting practices.

                Authoritative parenting has been deemed as the best parenting method by researchers, according to Psychology Today. Parents who use authoritative parenting methods have rules for their children, but they are not looking for blind compliance. They recognize that having a relationship with their child is of great importance and therefore valuing the child’s voice, opinions, and thoughts is important.

                Authoritative parents seek to guide and direct their children, but they do not seek to control the will of their child.

                Parenting Coach Plan explains the foundation of authoritative parenting as the following:[4]

                Authoritative parenting can be described as a style of parenting that combines firm limits and clear boundaries with fair and consistent discipline. Authoritative parents are also nurturing, highly-involved, and willing to speak openly with their child regarding expectations and the consequences for failing to meet those expectations. Rules are enforced and fair consequences are put in place for when those rules are broken.

                Children raised in authoritative homes follow the rules because they understand the “why” of the rules. They are also bonded to their parents because they are able to talk to their parents openly. This bond helps nurture a positive home environment and a two-way relationship that can last a lifetime.

                To learn more about how to be an authoritative parent and how to discipline a child using this parenting method, check out my article:

                How to Discipline a Child (The Complete Guide for Different Ages)

                Featured photo credit: Xavier Mouton Photographie via unsplash.com

                Reference

                Read Next