Christmas can be a great teacher for kids

Christmas is magical and fun, but it can also teach kids a lot.

Excited toddler laughing at some Christmas magic

Kids get excited by the magic of Christmas and decorations

So why are some people trying change Christmas and avoid those lessons?

First, we had the Mothers Union wanting to cancel writing to Santa instead of teaching kids how to write good letters instead of just greedy lists. All because they don’t respect parents to be able to say no…

Ally Fogg disagreed and rightly took the parent’s responsibility of refusing expensive gift suggestions, but was perhaps a bit negative about Christmas being about soul-destroying disappointment.

Now a  Melbourne paper is running a story about avoiding tearful disappointments. Not much of the article is visible online but it suggests that kids’ expectations can never be met (well how about we teach them to have realistic expectations? And teach them that sometimes we don’t get everything we want or have to work for it?) and that they shouldn’t see toy catalogues ‘so they don’t know what they’re missing out on [or] learn what a cheap skate you are’.

My son loves junk mail (he calls them magazines!) and looking at all the pictures entertains him for hours. Sure he has asked for a couple of things but I say no or ‘we’ll think about it’ so he knows he doesn’t get everything he sees.

Seeing things we don’t have can inspire our imaginations and motivate us – some we can dream about without real expectations of getting and others we want to can find a way to earn them. Why should kids not get that opportunity too?

And I totally resent being called a cheap skate because I don’t buy my children everything they (would otherwise) see in catalogues.

They don’t need everything and do need to learn they can’t get everything so of course I say no to some (many) of their requests. That doesn’t make me a cheap skate.

If I don’t buy something because I can’t afford to, that also does not make me a cheap skate. But calling me that is exactly the sort of commercial pressure that stresses parents more than writing a letter to Santa does.

Let’s get back to Christmas being positive

Christmas is fun and magical.

Santa is a loving, generous person who can teach our children to be generous and loving if we let him.

The magic and wonder of Christmas, which includes writing to a hero like Santa, is important against the amount of solid information kids get the rest of the year – so says parenting expert Michael Grose.

Writing to Santa can teach kids letter writing and communication skills (which includes caring about who you write to, not just yourself) as well as be a time to manage expectations, spend quality time together and develop some motor skills.

Girl in red Santa outfit holding a gift

Kids also enjoy giving

Teaching kids to be grateful for what they are given – making them use basic manners, sending thank you letters to Santa, letting them see others have less, and so on – is a valuable lesson. That will not only do more to stop greed for Christmas but make them better people.

Help parents teach

I would prefer to see all these ‘support groups’ and media support parents learn how Christmas can be used to help children.

Parenting is a tough job, and making rules that are hard to enforce (and that parents don’t actually want to enforce) isn’t helping.

Let’s help parents (and I need as much help as any other parents) make Christmas magical.

Let’s make Christmas a time to share and be happy.

Let’s concentrate on helping others and show our kids that is what Christmas and Santa are really all about.

How can we help parents help and teach kids? What ideas do you have?

These moves against letting kids learn from Christmas are really irritating me (can you tell?) but I shall hop off my high horse now and wait for you to share your ideas…

11 Responses to Christmas can be a great teacher for kids

  • pafjlh says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more about this. My parents didn’t have a whole lot, but they never took the magic of Christmas away from their kids. They taught us that Santa was a good person who will bring you gifts. But not necessary everything you want. My father was a firm believer and teaching his kids that you must work for what you want. That there was more satisfaction in doing this.

  • Trissandra says:

    It’s rather difficult for me to understand people who think that taking the Christmas magic away will solve the problem. Christmas preparations, including gifts, are beautiful tradition. Adults should talk with children about it and explain that Christmas isn’t only for expensive presents. It’s a special time we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Presents are important, but they’re rather an addition to the general Christmas mood.

    • Santa's Elf says:

      Exactly, Trissandra – presents aren’t and shouldn’t be the focus, and we can change the focus deliberately without having to remove presents or other fun parts of christmas.

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  • dhrynio says:

    We try not to make gifts the main focus. We talk a lot about the reason we celebrate the holiday, we talk about it bein a awonderful time to spend with family and we also do an adopt a family program. My kids go shopping with us and they get to choose some of the things that we will buy for the family. We talk about how we also need to give and not just recieve. And we talk about how rewarding it is to know that we gave some joy to others in the form of gifts for those who needed some help.

    I also have them help me bake some yummy holiday goodies and we deliver platters of them to our neighbors and to businesses that have made a difference for us, like our pediatricians office, school director and the office at my husbands work!

  • JaimieSkye says:

    I agree! We haven’t had much money to spend on gifts the past several years. Most of the gifts my children get are handmade. I’m so thankful that my children aren’t materialistic and ask for everything they see on the tv commercials. Because we haven’t had much money to buy a lot of things, my children have learned how to give. I donated several pairs of hand knit mittens to my daughter’s school to kids in need. My girls are making fleece tie blankets for the nursing home down the street. Last night they made a bunch of cards for the residents of a different nursing home. They love to give and that’s what Christmas is all about.

  • oportosanto says:

    I have to say I love your choice of pictures, they are great!

    I really can’t say why people want to “cancel” Christmas, what I do know is that it’s a magical time for kids and should be preserved forever.

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