I LOVE Christmas! Almost everything about it! It’s such an exciting time of the year. You all know I’m about respectful parenting and I feel like Christmas is a time with a few traditions and customs to be extra mindful of! So this is what we’re focusing on this year…
Let them decorate
I’ve already talked about this one, you can read it here. Let them decorate! They should be involved and you’ll have loads of fun!
Kick the Elf off the shelf
I really dislike this Elf thing that is all the rage now. The whole reporting back to Santa thing? No. Don’t do that. Also included in this category: phoney calls from Santa threatening kids to be good, video messages from Santa telling kids they need to pick up their game, etc. I don’t need to explain why this isn’t respectful I don’t think but you can read more about unconditional parenting here if you like.
Don’t force photos with Santa
A screaming child on a strangers lap is not funny. My big kids like getting photos with Santa but sometimes they have cried when little. They have been fine and happy until I stepped back for them to take a photo and then started crying. The people taking the photo often will try to distract them with toys and continue taking photos but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them. Scoop in there and pick them up! Or jump in with them and have a photo if they’re ok with that instead. But don’t force it! For one thing we don’t want to be encouraging kids not to listen to their instincts when they’re clearly feeling uncomfortable with a situation. And it’s also not respectful to be snapping photos of them when they’re clearly distressed, right?
Talk about what will happen on Christmas Day
Christmas is a busy time with lots going on and a lot of chances for kids to become overwhelmed! All of a sudden they’ve reached their limit and you’ve been so busy that you’ve missed the early warning signs until they’re at breaking point. Been there! We’ve been discussing a lot about our plans and also involving them in the planning process. It’s much more fun to decide what we’re doing together. They also know what to expect from the day which will hopefully help things go more smoothly.
Let them open presents at their own pace
Sometimes the sheer amount of presents kids get is overwhelming! One Christmas my then 3 year old sat down in the middle of the floor and refused to open any more. It was all too much! I think we were all so excited to watch her open things we were pushing her along at our pace. ‘Don’t open the box yet, just finish opening your presents’, ‘what else have you got there?’, ‘open this one next!’. Eek! Now we are careful to slow down and let things unfold (or unwrap) at their own pace.
Say ‘no’ to forced affection
Christmas means family! That’s a good thing! We want our kids to love our extended family like we do but we must remember to give them time and space and always respect their bodily autonomy. We want to respect their right to say ‘No’. And we want them to feel complete ownership over their own body. This is SO important. Here’s a great post that talks about bodily autonomy in more detail.
That’s how we’re trying to ensure Christmas is a happy and respectful occasion in our house! What about you?