GIVE PRESENCE, NOT PRESENTS
Give Your Children the Gift They Really Need This Holiday
The giving of gifts is an honored tradition in most homes during the holiday season. Many parents are wondering what they will give this year as they tighten the money belt and attempt to weather the financial storm through the holiday.
Perhaps the answer lies in the gifts that are given. Give children what they really want from their parents, presence – not presents. All children spell love T-I-M-E. What we can give to them is our attention, our availability, our mindfulness, our closeness, our time.
Are you being fully present with your children? Can you let go of your worry about money and the giving of gifts? Can you suspend your agenda to focus on theirs? Can you learn to be there for and with your children? Consider the following suggestions as a way to give the most important present – your presence – this holiday season.
1. BE THERE REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU ARE DOING
The holiday season requires an added measure of balancing kid’s schedules, work responsibilities, visiting family, cooking elaborate meals as well as regular requirements of keeping up with the laundry, etc. When feeling pulled in several directions many parents turn to multi-tasking. We’re suggesting that you avoid the urge to multi-task and strive to stay focused on the moment at hand. When you sit with your children, whether it’s to play a game or read a book, give them your undivided attention.
2. MAKE A "BE" CHOICE
How you choose to “be” affects whatever you choose to do. When you are with your children, choose to be interested in what they are interested in. Choose to be happy that you have the time to focus on their needs and wants. Choose to be excited about the time you have with them. Even when misbehavior occurs in your children, choose to be glad that you have the opportunity to help them learn a new behavior or a new way to communicate a desire or express a feeling.
3. FOCUS ON LISTENING RATHER THAN TELLING
Children spend a great portion of their day following directions such as: pick up your clothes, make your bed, sit down, be quiet, go play, chew with your mouth closed, stop picking on your brother, hang up your coat, brush your teeth. The list of commands seem unending. Remember, children have valuable things to say too. Many times parents get so focused on telling that they forget to listen. Value your children’s opinion. Allow opportunities to vent. Embrace their point of view. Invite suggestions. Listen to their voice.
5. CONNECT PHYSICALLY
Touch is a powerful way to communicate “I love you.” Get close and touch your children’s heart with a warm embrace or a gentle squeeze of the shoulder. Snuggle under a blanket and read together. Go for a walk and lock hands. Wrestle on the living room floor. Distribute hugs, smiles, winks and an occasional high five.
6. UNPLUG FROM THE ELECTRONIC WORLD
The television, computer, video games, and iPods have the potential to create a disconnect from personal interaction. Unplug, turn it off, and walk away. While riding in the car unplug the headphones, turn off the DVD player and tell your children a story about the day they were born or about a favorite holiday memory. Shut down the computer, turn off the X-box and play a game of chess, checkers or monopoly together. Stand up, walk away from the TV and go shoot baskets, skip rope, or ride bikes with your child.
Thomas Haller and Chick Moorman are the authors of The 10 Commitments: Parenting with Purpose. They are two of the world's foremost authorities on raising responsible, caring, confident children. They publish a free monthly e-zine for parents. To sign up for it or obtain more information about how their forthcoming internet radio show can help you transform your parenting style, visit their website today: www.personalpowerpress.com.