How to teach children about the spirit of the season

It’s never too early or late to impart lessons of the real meaning of the season to children! 

The festive period often conjures up images of appetising food and seasonal treats, late-night merriment and, of course, lots of presents.

In recent years, the holiday has been criticised for pandering to consumerism, given the spike in shopping activities during the period and a rise in festive-themed consumer products that’s even spread to the takeaway coffee cups in high street chains.

Children, in particular, are susceptible to thinking that the festive season is all about receiving gifts, enjoying extravagant meals and throwing away money. Are we losing sight of the real meaning of the holidays? And what impact is this having on our children?

Deeper meaning

In today’s time of instant gratification, it’s important for youngsters to understand the
spirit of the occasion, which in its essence has nothing to do with materialism or overindulgence.

A good place to start is by focusing on the importance of seasonal traditions, such as fostering strong family ties, instead of presents and food.

“One of the great things about the festive season is that it’s internationally practised with those closest and dearest to us,” says Bene Katabua, educational psychologist at kidsFirst Medical Center.

“Families all over the world take a moment to gather together as they wrap up the end of the year. It’s also the time when lasting memories of time spent together are formed.”

She continues: “The way in which gifts are shared and food consumed is unlike birthdays or anniversaries. It’s not a day when any particular person in the home is celebrated, but rather an opportunity for the family to celebrate one another.”

During these gatherings, involve the little ones by encouraging them to mingle with family members. You could also incorporate games, storytelling or sing-alongs for everyone to join in.

Developing gratitude

When it comes to gifts, getting children to look beyond the price tag can help them realise the true reason why the season is being celebrated.

From an early age, children should understand that the season is more about giving than receiving, and that presents are not valued according to the price; it’s the thought that counts.

“We can’t deny how exciting it is to indulge in great food and unwrap presents,” Bene admits.

“But this joyful experience can be met with thoughtfulness and gratitude. When children have the opportunity to give to others, it allows them the space to develop the idea that the gift is actually in giving.

“During this time, it’s helpful to encourage children to think of the less fortunate, as well as gifts for other family members. This could even be in the form of cards, drawings and paintings or hand-made crafts.

“It’s important to teach the real value of the season so that they don’t buy into the commercialism of the times,” Bene adds.

“Strive to create lasting, positive memories that have less to do with material gifts and more to do with quality time.”

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