Dr. Corinne Masur
When it comes to the holidays and children, less IS more.
Whether we are talking about gifts or holiday activities, how about trying to do LESS this year?
Everyone seems to feel the need to do more – more parties, more decorations, more and better gifts for each other. And with the constant online media presence of everyone, we have to see what other people are doing and compare ourselves to those airbrushed portrayals of life (and by the way, does anyone ever post about their failed attempts to shop/bake/decorate? Their lack of time or energy?).
Anyway, back to the point: For children, especially small children, more is often NOT better. Children of 1 and 2 don’t really know what presents are and they don’t really need them. They get excited by the excitement around them. They tear into the wrapping paper because they are encouraged to do so or because they see others doing this – but they don’t care about presents, not really. What they care about is being with family, having attention paid to them and, of course, the occasional yummy treat! So often, our efforts to shop and bake and decorate and entertain take us AWAY from our young children and make us irritable when we are with them.
How about limiting gifts this year? For the child under 3, one or two presents is plenty. I know this may seem wrong; I know grandparents and other relatives may be hard to restrain. But a mountain of gifts and demands to open, open, open can be overwhelming for young children rather than fun. You may notice that they get cranky more easily, seem tired or wired – these are signs of overstimulation – and this is not fun for them or anyone else!
And how about limiting how many parties and activities you do with your children? Again, this may seem just wrong, against the whole holiday season thing. But young children do well with one activity per half day. One visit to Santa in the morning. One party in the afternoon or evening. If you try to pack in a series of events, one after the other – again you may see the tired or wired feelings and behavior.
For older children? Even for them, it can all be too much. How about limiting the number of presents even for them? And how about opening presents one at a time while everyone looks on? Hard to accomplish, I know, but this way also has its benefits: The giver gets to watch the child’s reaction and the getter gets the feeling of attention that may have been lacking in the frenzy leading up to the holiday.
And for parents? Too much pressure to do too much can also leave YOU tired or wired or worse.
Give yourself permission to DO LESS this year.