Our kids LIKE getting multiple presents under the tree, but gifts that can’t be wrapped are the most precious gifts that you can give your child this year.
We all know this. Parenting 101 tells us that concentrating on material gifts during the holidays (as well as throughout the year) only breeds spoiled and greedy kids that eventually grow into shallow and unhappy adults. As good parents, we know that the value of our time, attention, and unconditional love mean more to our kids than the newest gadget or the hottest toy.
As MODERN PARENTS, we also know that it is equally important to instill in our kids a healthy sense of self-esteem, self-reliance, and a life-long love to pursue their personal passions, values, and beliefs.
Therefore, you can encourage these traits through giving your child the following 5 intangible Christmas gifts and committing to the following behaviors during 2015:
#1: You will love them simply for TRYING
This sends a message to your kids that it is ok to try new things. Childhood is a time when your kids are figuring out their personal passions, values, and beliefs for themselves. Sometimes, kids needs to experience several passions or hobbies before they find their true calling. Figuring out that they don’t like playing the tuba, for instance, isn’t a bad thing if it allows them to then move on to figuring out that they love playing the cello.
#2: You won’t expect your child to be perfect
You are not perfect. I am not perfect. Why should you expect your child to be perfect? By allowing your child to be less than perfect – or to be their authentic selves – then they become free to explore their interests with abandon, love their passions with all their heart, and to practice these endeavors repeatedly until they become great at their passions because they LOVE WHAT THEY ARE DOING!
#3: You will provide support and guidance while allowing your child to make some of their own decisions
This not only sends the message to your child that you trust them to make good decisions, but it also communicates to them that they know how to get help or guidance when their decisions don’t work out like they planned. I know that I do not make perfect decisions 100% of the time, but I also know how ask for help or seek out ways to correct my mistake. This is an important life lesson to teach to your child.
#4: You will strive to not blow age-appropriate misbehavior out of proportion and, similarly, you will resist the urge to turn that misbehavior into a moralistic label
I have seen too many times when working with other parents the negative effects of their over-reaction to typical adolescent or teenager behavior. When parents react this way to typical behavior (and I’m not talking about behavior that could put themselves or others at physical or legal risk), it sends the message to your child that he or she cannot change their behavior. If they think that you believe that they cannot change their behavior, then why should they bother to try?
Likewise, this same message is also communicated when we label our kids as “bad” or with descriptions such as “always makes bad decisions,” or “never thinks before they act.” Your child will benefit more when you acknowledge their mistake, provide a logical consequence, and then allow them to move on with the expectation that they WILL eventually learn from their mistake. Our kids WANT to be their best and we WANT them to develop into the best person they can be!
#5: Finally, you will make an effort to really listen when your child speaks
Sure, sometimes our kids are interested in things that are so tedious and painful for us to listen to that we find any excuse to distract ourselves with our smart phone or to cut the conversation short. How many of you have had to listen to your teenage daughter expound upon the greatness of One Direction? I know I have!
Your child will gain so much self-confidence and self-esteem when one of their very favorite people (you!!) takes the time to listen to what they are saying. When you really listen to what your child is saying, try to add to the conversation without criticizing. For instance, if you don’t like the boy band One Direction, it probably won’t help to point that out; instead, share with your child your memories of your favorite teenage band. What a bonding moment for the two of you!
I have found that today’s MODERN PARENTS want to go above and beyond the usual parenting techniques that were taught to us by our parents and to incorporate modern parenting techniques that will better equip our modern kids with the tools and values they will need to be successful in the future.
By making a concerted effort to give your child the 5 immaterial Christmas gifts outlined above, you are setting your child up for success for their future!