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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Creating Peaceful Holidays with Children

I want to share with you excerpts from an article written by Pam Leo, author of the book, Connection Parenting. It's a wonderful article for this time of year! Enjoy!

"The Gift Every Child Really Wants"
by Pam Leo

Whether we observe Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Solstice, the holidays have become more stressful for many parents and less happy for many children. By the time we add shopping, wrapping, baking, decorating, and holiday events to our already busy schedules, we have less time than ever to spend with our children. When children don't get enough attention from the people they love, their "love cup" gets empty and they feel disconnected and unhappy.
If adults try to make children happy by buying them more presents to compensate for spending less time with them, we teach children that "things" are supposed to make them happy. When gifts become a substitute for love instead of a symbol of love, children begin to measure how much they are loved by how many gifts they receive. The more empty their "love" cup, the more "things" children ask for to try to fill the emptiness they feel.

The gift every child I really wants, is the gift of feeling connected, loved, and valued. Those feelings can't be found in any present or in any amount of presents. Children want to be with us and to do what we do. Feeling connected, loved, and valued comes from spending time with the people they love and from doing things with and for the people they love.

One of the best gifts we can give to children is the experience of the joy of giving. We can encourage children to make an "I want to give" list as well as an "I want to get" list. Children delight in giving their own gifts. When children are allowed and invited to fully participate in the holiday making, wrapping, baking, and decorating, they become more focused on what they want to give than on what they want to get. Children who feel connected, loved, and valued don't need lots of gifts to fill their "love cup."

We can break the "presents instead of presence" cycle by doing the holidays with our children instead of for them. Whether our children are still very young and we have a fresh beginning to create meaningful holiday traditions and rituals or we have older children who have been accustomed to receiving lots of presents, we can put the "happy" back into the holidays by filling our children's "love cup" with connection instead of consumerism.

Most of all, we can stop trying to "do it all." We can tell family and friends that we are changing how we "do" the holidays and that we have decided to spend more time connecting with our children. When we slow down the pace and stop doing and buying too much, our children are happier, we are happier, and our holidays are happier.

For this entire article, including numerous tips on how to create a less stressful holiday and one filled with more joy please visit Pam Leo's website,

Sharon Ann Wikoff is an educator and has been working with children and families for over 25 years. Her 2010 schedule of parenting classes and services can be found at by mid-December. She hosts the radio program, The Voice of Change, which can be heard at

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