Children and the Holidays

Children and the Holidays:

The following tips were provided by Jill Rigby, an author and frequent guest on 9News This Morning's Parenting 101 segment.

Christmas season is really about giving, not receiving. Christmas is about loving others, not worrying about being loved. The heart of Christmas is found in sharing God's love with everyone. To encourage our children to be others-centered we made three trees today that help your children focus on others.

Family Christmas Tree-Help your children select or make ornaments that depict the members of your family and friends. For instance, a soccer ball for the brother who's on the team! A ballerina for the cousin who dancing her way across the stage! Make tags to hang from each one with the family member's name.

Advent Tree-We used our matchbox advent boxes from last months segment to decorate a small tree that can be placed in the heart of the home, the kitchen, so no one forgets to enjoy a candy treat each day! The others-centered lesson comes when your children write an act of love they'll do for someone else that day. For instance, "Be kind to my little sister." "Help with the supper dishes." "Play a game with my elderly neighbor."

The Christ Tree-Pick up a tomato cage at a local nursery. ($1.00-2.00) Tie the loose pieces together to form the top of the tree. Wrap with wire to secure. Attach artificial pieces of garland and picks with wire to cover the entire cage. Collect the symbols of Christ and attach to your tree. Place over a wooden cross to teach your children the true meaning of Christmas. God sent His Son into our world to lead us back to Him. He lived to die for us. Read the Christmas story from Luke 2 as a family. Lift the tree to reveal the cross beneath. Beautiful way to help your children "see" the cross when they look at a Christmas tree!

A few symbols of Christ to get you started:

            The Precious Pearl

            The Lamb of God

            The Door

            The Gate

            The King of Kings

            The Fish

            The Wheat

            The Good Shepherd

            The Key

The following tips were provided by Dr. Roger Butner, a family therapist and frequent guest on 9News This Morning's Parenting 101 segment.

Taking into account your children's ages and interest levels, include them in holiday planning and preparations. Parents often set themselves up for trouble by making holiday plans without getting input from kids, sometimes even without even realistically considering the kids.

Do your best to make holiday plans that will work for the whole family. This doesn't mean you hand over the decisions to your children, but seeking and considering their input can really help minimize some unnecessary conflict and stress. If kids are too young to offer meaningful input, be sure to consider their limitations, interests, and abilities in your plans.

Remember, often times less is more. Leave room for rest, relaxation, and spontaneity during your holiday season. Planning and structure are good things, no doubt about it. However, don't try to do so much that you get to the end of your holiday and vacation time, and wish you had vacation time to rest from your vacation time. Make sure to celebrate the traditions that are important to you and your children, and be willing to let go of traditions that may be low on meaning but big on time and energy (stress).

If your family doesn't really have meaningful traditions for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, etc, try some new things this year and see if they are worth repeating in years to come. Such traditions could center on religious beliefs and family values, relationships among family and friends, special meals or other gatherings, fun times with gifts or stockings, special games played, connecting in special ways with the community, or so many other things that can bring rich meaning to the holidays

Holiday Activities for your Children:
The following tips were provided by Jill Rigby, author and frequent guest on 9News This Morning's Parenting 101 segment.

Helping Your Child Understand Thanksgiving

Supplies: 24 matchboxes, red/green paints, small brush, scraps of wrapping paper, ribbon, glue stick, small trinkets, candy

Assemble: Paint the match boxes. Cut small scraps of paper to line the inside of each box. Use an ice pick to punch a small hole in the center back of each box. Thread ribbon through to form a hanger. Wrap another slip of paper around the matchbox cover, adhere with glue stick. Add numbers to the bottom center of each matchbox cover. (You can find button numbers, stick-on numbers, etc. in the scrapbook department of your local crafts store.)

Encourage your children to write a blessing on a small slip of paper and place inside each box. On Thanksgiving, your guests can open the boxes and read each blessing. Transfer the boxes to a green wreath or hang from a garland to use as a traditional advent calendar. During the month of December as your children open each box to receive a little trinket or candy, encourage them to fill the boxes with gifts from their hearts. Spending time with an elderly neighbor, reading a story to a younger sibling, helping with the dishes after supper, etc. On Christmas have your children read each one as a reminder Christmas is about giving ourselves in service to others.