It is now that wonderful time of every year that can be really enjoyable or really stressful for parents. This year is no different. There are additional stressors added to the holiday season for many parents; however, the little things are what matter most for children and teens. Parents can use this time to build a deeper connection with their kids. This may seem like just another thing to add to the ever-growing to-do list this time of year, but it really isn’t.
There are three simple things that parents can do to build connection with children during this time of year. First, when you must get in the kitchen and prepare those wonderful meals that we all look forward to, try including the kids. Give your kids a part of the meal to help prepare or if they are old enough, prepare a dish for the meal. Use this time to talk about topics that are important to them. If you have a teen preparing the vegetables, ask them about what they are looking forward to eating and why. For little ones, simply talking about what they are doing is a great way to build connections.
Second, wrap those presents together. This can be really fun when you let things happen organically. Helping your child wrap gifts to give to others can help build altruism, which is a great gift to give to your child. It may not be the prettiest wrapped gift, but it is all about the journey to the finished product that matters.
Finally, eat that meal you created together. The holidays are full of wonderful foods that we normally don’t get to enjoy during other times of the year. Using these special times to play games, create something new, or just relax together are some of the best times.
Just to show you the impact of simple acts can have on little ones, I’d like to share a short story from my childhood. When I was growing up in North Carolina, the day after Thanksgiving my family would go to the Christmas tree lot and pick out a big tree to go in our living room. That evening, my parents would play the Nat King Cole or the Temptations Christmas album and we would decorate the tree. We would talk about how pretty the tree was as we added lights and ornaments and shared past family Christmas stories. When we were finished, we turned off the lights and only the Christmas tree lights illuminated the room. I curled up next to my parents with some hot cocoa, and we enjoyed the music and enjoyed just being in the presence of one another. This memory warms my heart, and I try to recreate it every holiday season with my family. Something that was already on the long to-do list turned into a connection for my family.
It is truly the little things that make the biggest difference. So remember, as we approach this holiday season, find the enjoyable times to connect with your children. It will follow them for the rest of their lives. Happy holidays to all and to all great family connections!
Monet Somerville, MS
Monet received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology from North Carolina Wesleyan College. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Science in Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from Capella University. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Developmental Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. Monet is also a licensed Trust Based Relational Intervention Practitioner.
Prior to working to The Parenting Center, Monet worked as a Case Manager in a residential facility for adolescent girls who were in foster care but were unable to be placed in a foster home. She also taught foster parents about child development and the impacts that positive parenting can make on a child.