Reason for the Season: 5 Ways Parents Can Remove Materialism from Holidays for their Children

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During the holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in all of the materialism.

Children (and parents too) forget the reason for the season which is usually about giving, charity and togetherness moreso than about getting. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or some other holiday during the Winter months, it’s important to be able to bring it all back down to earth, and de-emphasize the commercialization of the Holidays.

That’s why we are happy to share the “Top 5 Ways to Teach Your Kids to Give and Receive in the Holiday Spirit” curated by the folks at Wear the Cape™, a brand that gives back and aims to restore the power of kindness and heroic character with cool, inspirational products and its non-profit the kidkind foundation.

With these tips, by the organization’s resident character education expert Philip Brown, PhD, who is a Fellow of the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University, parents can know how to emphasize love over material things during the holiday season.

“We can all agree that the holidays can bring out the best in us and the worst in us,” said Dr. Brown. “As the big end-of-year holidays approach, it is common to get anxious about how much there is to do, whether we have enough gifts to make everyone happy, and if our celebration of family and religious traditions will go as we hope. Our motives may be the best, but execution can be daunting.”

Here are the tips:

1. Be intentional. Talk to children about giving and charity, how it makes us feel, and what values we are upholding. Whether the heart-to-heart is about giving money or time and energies, research shows that talking with children to help them understand the family and society values associated with giving is important.

2. Think beyond your family. Let children know they are part of a community and global citizenship. Ask who has served your family this past year and could use some recognition. Look at where there are people in need locally, nationally and internationally. Could a neighbor use a helping hand or the local food pantry some extra servers?

3. Involve your kids in decision-making. Include your children in discussions about to whom something should be given, whether it’s a toy, a dollar, a card, the offer of service or a good word. Simple and sweet can open the heart as much as big and fancy. Think of family and then extend outward. Involving kids in the process of selecting charities or persons to whom they want to give goes a long way toward building a generous spirit.

4. Gift outside the box – literally. Consider gifts of experiences rather than just material items. We remember and cherish good times together longer than almost any physical present.

5. Don’t overlook the art of receiving. You can help children build their character by learning how to receive gifts gracefully and with gratitude, which is as important as being a caring giver. The holidays are also about receiving. Receiving should be done with an open heart, remembering that the person giving the gift wants to please you and make you feel good.

According to Dr. Brown, dealing with disappointed expectations during the holidays provides an opportunity to support children’s learning process and emphasize that the holidays are about sharing time with loved ones, not about the size of the gifts. He recommends being present to each other, remembering that children ascertaining how to handle intense feelings is rarely a smooth course, and being tolerant of their mistakes, as you would want them to be of yours. “Emotional honesty goes a long way to healing the wounds of dashed expectations,” commented Dr. Brown.

And in fact, celebrating the spirit of giving all year long is one way to take away the expectations surrounding receiving, and lessen the streeses at the end of the year.

“Avoiding being swept up in societal pressures to dazzle our kids with exciting gifts in pretty packages is one of the biggest challenges for parents during the holiday season,” observed Leigh Ann Errico, CEO & Founder of Wear the Cape & the kidkind foundation. “Teaching children to appreciate non-material blessings all year round helps parents battle expectations for excess.”

Starting today, Wear the Cape is kicking off its #BetterThanPresents challenge and inviting people of all ages to post a short video on social media sharing what they want this holiday season that money can’t buy, then daring friends and family to do the same. Join in! Include the hashtag #BetterThanPresents when posting your video, and tag your friends and Wear the Cape’s Facebook page HERE

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