We often hear Christmas referred to as the season of giving. We think of others and give gifts, as it brings joy to us and those around us. However, it can be easy for children to get swept up in commercialism and think they need everything they see in stores or in commercials.
But, there is a lot we can learn from giving and receiving gifts. As parents, we can use Christmas gift-giving as a teaching and learning tool. Here's how:
Young children learn to make choices about likes and dislikes
Rather than selecting gifts your child may enjoy, as him or her what they would like to receive. This doesn't mean you have to get them everything they ask for, but it'll give you an idea of what they are interested in.
Children need to learn to make choices. By being able to voice their opinions on clothing or toys they like or dislike, they are learning to make choices and gain confidence in their decision making. You can also have your child decide which they like best, next best, etc.
Children learn the difference between wants and needs
Some families give a mixture of "wants" and "needs" as gifts. Kids are pretty good at coming up with what they want, but less likely to know what they need.
I've heard the idea of giving four gifts: something you want; something you need; something to wear; something you'll read. This can help children learn to categorize priorities and understand the difference between wanting something and needing something.
We can teach kids how to give thoughtful gifts
One of the best things we can do as parents is to teach our kids to be giving. This kind of selfless act can enrich your child's life in a way nothing else can. Teach your children to be thoughtful with their gift giving.
According to a Time.com article, "...parents can start conversations that shift the focus from the stuff kids want, to what it means to give and receive. In particular, it's good to focus on the fact that a gift is always a response to a relationship."
Perhaps you can assign "Secret Santas" within your family to give each other gifts. Spend time with your child and help them to think of a gift that the other person needs or would enjoy.
Parents can learn a lot about their child by the gifts he or she chooses
Especially as your child becomes a teen and approaches adulthood, the things they are interested in can tell you a lot about him or her. The things they want can perhaps tell us what talents they have and what things they enjoy.
If your child asks for books, they enjoy reading and may even want to become an author one day. If they ask for musical instruments or sheet music, you may also know that they have musical talent. If they want sports equipment, they're likely athletic.
You can also gain a lot of insight by the types of specific things they choose. For instance, if they want books about science, how-to books, books that teach a certain skill, fantasy books, sci-fi books or horror books. There's a lot of insight parents can gain about their children from more specific choices.
Christmas is the season of giving. As our kids learn and discover who they are, they can learn to understand who others are. They will also begin to think outside themselves and become givers. Giving gifts teaches us about ourselves and others. It's a magical time to celebrate giving, and the lessons we learn from it.