Tis the Season

Last week was about gratitude or being thankful.  Now we move on to the season of giving (or getting?).  All over the world parents are trying to help their children stay in the spirit of the holiday, whatever holiday you celebrate. Hanukah has been influenced by the gift giving of Christmas, and African-Americans have Kwanza.  I must confess that I don’t know what Moslems do at this time of year, but I am sure that their children are influenced by the mighty media blitz that encourages us to commercialize these holidays.

So, what do you want your children to understand about the holidays?  Many of us would like children to think about the giving as much as the getting.  Young children are naturally self-centered, so they are very interested in the getting part.  It takes effort on parents’ part to communicate that there is value in giving.

This morning I found a brief mention of a piece of research that indicates that toddlers feel happy when they can give something to someone else.  The researchers found that the children were more happy when they gave away one of their own crackers than when they were given a cracker to give away.

I know that a piece of laboratory research is hard to generalize to the real world, but the basic idea is appealing to me.  If we can give our children opportunities to give something that they feel some ownership over, they get more satisfaction.  This is the part that takes planning.  I think it is important to take the time to involve children in planning their gift giving.

Some children have allowance that they can take to a store to buy something for a family member.  Even if the gift is very small it has meaning for the child.  I remember being told that my grandfather needed Scotch tape for Christmas, and I was able to buy that when I was very young.  I think that I must have felt good about it, because I can still remember him being pleased with the Scotch tape.

Some parents and children are good at crafts, and there are lots of ways that children can make useful items for gifts.  If you lack ideas, just start searching the internet for suggestions.  Getting to make something definitely adds to the sense of ownership.

Engage your children in planning their gift giving early so that you have time to involve them in the purchasing or making.  They will still be very concerned about what they will receive, but they will also experience the pleasure of giving a gift truly from themselves.


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Photo credit:  Gunna on Flickr


8 Responses to “Tis the Season”
  1. My daughter is only two, but I’m excited for the opportunity to help her give gifts this year. She has been talking about babies a lot lately and playing with baby dolls, so we “adopted” a baby boy from the Angel Tree at the Y. We’ll get to pick out shoes and socks for the baby boy. I’m looking forward to that.

  2. Carolyn,

    Our children are at the age where we are really focusing on this. They have many loving family members, so they are often deluged with gifts, and I can see how easy it would be for them to be overindulged. Thanks for some additional suggestions.


  3. JoAnn Jordan says:

    Over the years, we have taken part in angel trees and other community gift giving projects. My daughter and her cousins would do tasks to raise funds towards these projects. And, we always encouraged “thinning” the toy collection before the holidays so family could purchase her gently used toys to gift a child.

  4. Hi Carolyn – Nice piece, my son was always taken care of by many family members in the way of gifts….we gave some away, used consignment for some and re-gifted some. When he was in elementary school, we collected necessities for St Peters Orphanage near us, from his entire class and delivered them. It was a wonderful time. Now we donate to many charitable organizations including Root and Wings and St Peters Orphanage.

  5. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Rachelle,
    Thanks for your comment. This sounds like lots of fun. I hope your daughter thinks so too!

  6. dr.cstone says:

    Dear Anne,
    Good for you. I hope that you and your family enjoy finding opportunities for giving.

  7. dr.cstone says:

    Dear JoAnn,
    What an original idea to have family purchase gently used toys that your daughter wanted to let go of so they could give them to another child! I think I got it right.

  8. dr.cstone says:

    Hi Kathy,
    There are so many ways to give to others, aren’t there? As you know, I like the idea of involving children in this. It is also helpful for them to give gifts within the family so they experience the delight of having someone take pleasure in the gift they gave.
    Happy holidays to you!