6 Life Lessons Children Can Learn From Christmas
Christmas is a time for celebration. But, it’s also a great opportunity to teach your child some important values. Here are some ways you can make the occasion a teaching moment as well.
By Ashwin Lobo
It’s been four weeks since my son gave me his Christmas gift wish-list. When I first got it, I must admit, I was a little taken aback. He had a surprisingly large number of demands for an eight-year-old: A couple of video games, action figures, a cricket kit, a football and to top it all — a Labrador puppy! As Christmas draws closer, his excitement is visibly mounting. I know that he’ll be heartbroken if I don’t get him what he wants, but at the same time, I want to teach him that Christmas is about more than just getting new toys.
Sadly, the significance of Christmas seems to have changed from what it used to be. Previously, it was about learning to share, coming together as a family and spreading love. But, of late, it has become more materialistic.
To help my child understand the spirit of Christmas and keep it alive, I decided that I will make him understand what this joyous occasion is all about. Here are six values I’m going to teach my child this Christmas:
1. Giving to the less fortunate: Christmas isn’t about just receiving presents, it’s about giving them as well, especially to those who aren't as fortunate as we are I will give my child most of the presents he has asked for (the puppy may have to wait), but I'll also take him on a visit to an orphanage, where we will distribute chocolates to the children.
- What my child may learn: When my child sees the joy on these children’s faces at receiving the gifts, I’m hoping that he will realise how lucky he is for having all that he has. It will also teach him the importance of sharing and the joy it spreads.
2. Celebrating love: Christmas is a time to be thankful for all the beautiful people in your life and to express your love to them. What’s more, research suggests that gratitude may actually be good for your health. A 2017 study published by the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley found that being grateful for the little things in your life can improve your mental health, over time. So, this year, I’ve decided to write gratitude notes to all my loved ones, and I’m encouraging my child to do the same.
- What my child may learn: Doing this, I hope, will teach my child to appreciate those around him for who they are, rather than what they give him. I also want to develop in him the ability to show love to those who are a part of his everyday life, whether it’s a family member or someone else.
3. Bonding with the family: With my busy work schedule, and the time my child spends on academics and extra-curricular activities, it is difficult to find some quality time to bond as a family. This Christmas, I’ve decided to keep gadgets away, switch off my laptop and cell phone and spend some time with my family.
- What my child may learn: Spending time together will make my child realise that he is part of everyone's life. It will also help my child become less self-centred.
4. Being helpful: Cooking the Christmas dinner and decorating the house requires the participation of every family member, and I’ve already assigned certain duties to my little one. As a parent, I feel it’s my duty to teach him to be helpful. I recently came across a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Public Health which suggested that being helpful to others can reduce stress levels. So, this Christmas, my son’s responsibilities would include decorating the Christmas tree and cutting vegetables for dinner. Working together on getting the house ready for Christmas will be a great way for us to bond as well.
- What my child may learn: By working on decorating the house for Christmas and helping cook the special meal, he will learn that coming together not only makes things work better but also creates enjoyable moments.
5. Valuing simplicity: This Christmas, I have decided to put special focus on the value of simplicity. So, while I am getting my child the toys and games he wants, I’ve told him that for each new toy I buy for him, he has to give an old one away.
- What my child may learn: Limiting the number of toys he has will teach him to value each one more. And, I am also hoping secretly that having fewer playthings may encourage him to use his imagination and creativity to come up with games of his own.
6. Building community: While my family is Christian, several of my neighbours follow other faiths. Every Christmas, I send goodies and sweets to all my neighbours. This year, I’ve decided to give my child the responsibility of doing this. I’ve also asked him to distribute sweets to those who help us keep our home and also, the neighbourhood clean.
- What my child may learn: Reaching out to everyone in the neighbourhood and others will teach my child that it is important to build a community. Including everyone in the celebrations and becoming a part of others' celebrations will teach him to respect and get along with others.
Christmas is a time every child looks forward to. While Santa Claus, presents and decorations are the main attractions, it’s also important to teach the values that are integral to the festival. Use the season to introduce or remind your child of these values. But, remember, as parents, it is up to us to spread the joyful spirit of Christmas, through the year.
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