Teaching your tot the reason behind the season

by Julie Snyder

Reason for SeasonMost kids look forward to the treats and gifts that comes along with the holiday season. They certainly have help. Colorful TV ads, relative's questions of "what do you want" and toy displays in every window bombard your child from Halloween through Near Year's.

With so much commercialization of the holidays surrounding our kids, the season's real purpose can be easily lost in the shuffle.

For parents, this time of the year offers an opportunity to look at your blessing, pause and say thanks. Your reflection works to reinforce the reason you celebrate the season, whether that includes sharing, caring, gratefulness or kindness.

Teaching your tot the "reason behind the season"

Model thankfulness by using good manners and language. Ask the other adults in the child's life to do the same.

Remember to say "thank you" to people, no matter how big or small their assistance.

Craft idea: Create a "thankful for" book. Cut out pictures of people, toys, pets, and activities from magazines. Help your toddler glue each one onto an index card and then collate them into a book. Draw or print out a happy picture of your child for the cover.

Notice thankfulness. Recognize your child's grateful behaviors and you'll like see them occur more frequently.

Give your tot opportunities to help others. When you contribute to a charity, collect food for the food-bank or perform other acts of giving, explain what you're doing. Let your child drop the money or supplies into the donation box.

Activity idea: Choose a name on the giving tree or ask a local charity to share a family's holiday list with you. Shop together and fulfill their wishes. Kindness to others is like the flame of a candle. It creates light and reminds them that someone cares about them.

Sort through gently-used toys and clothing together. Donate these to another child or an organization that can find them a good home.

Craft idea: Make holiday decorations with your tot and share the true meaning of the season. Draw or print three ornaments to color. Talk about the child who will receive your donation. Include one of the ornaments with the donation and hang the other two in your home as a reminder of your blessing and how you shared those with others.

Use these situations to explain the needs of others. Remind your child that you may not have everything you wants, you all have everything needed. Some kids are hungry or cold or lonesome.

Practice being grateful all year long. Being thankful's not only for holiday times. Does your child enjoy those toys and belongings? Help provide words that express thankfulness.

Send thank you notes. Having children draw pictures to say thank you for a gift or act of kindness. This simple act helps kids develop gratitude.

How do you combat the non-stop "gimmees" in your home?

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.