The holiday season is upon us and kids everywhere are telling parents what they want. For a moment, let’s focus on what your kids truly need to be happy. It won’t cost you a dime. It only requires time and effort to raise your kids to be happy, responsible, and productive.
Here are the things your kids really need:
• Love & Belonging. Every child needs to be loved and to develop a strong sense of connection within the family. Make sure your home is a place where every family member feels loved and connected, not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year. You undoubtedly love your kids. Do you regularly show them how much they mean to you?
• Power & Competence. Everyone wants to feel successful. Help your kids develop competence. Kids who don’t feel competent and successful are more likely to engage in power struggles with you or be mean, especially to younger siblings. Kids gain power and competence by doing well in school, helping around the house, caring for a pet, or developing skill in the arts or athletics. Make sure your kids have a chance to demonstrate competence on a regular basis.
• Freedom. If you want your kids to be cooperative, give them choices whenever possible. Of course, there will be times when you will not offer a choice. Good parenting requires limit setting and the strength to say “No” when it is necessary. Your kids will be considerably more cooperative, even when you deny them what they want, if you routinely give them choices. Perhaps you will let them pick which story you will read at bedtime. Maybe you will let them choose between two options regarding what to wear. Be certain you are comfortable with the choices you offer, providing freedom without compromising your parental authority.
• Fun. Everybody needs to have fun, adults included. Fill your home with joy and laughter. Set aside time when you and your kids read a story. Play a game together. Being actively involved in a shared activity is fun for everyone. Creating a fun-filled home will reduce incidents of poor behavior and make your kids want to remain close to you as they get older.
• Safety. It is essential that kids feel safe at home. No matter what is going on in their lives, children need to know that they are safe and secure at home. Make a commitment that your home will always be a safe haven for every family member.
Regardless what your kids may want this holiday season, what they need is: Love, Power, Freedom, Fun, and Safety. If you provide them with that, you will all have a wonderful holiday season. Happy Holidays!