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Christmas Gifts Ideas That Teach Responsibility

Nov 12, 2011 | By Harvey Craft

Young girl helping her mother bakeThe media brings pictures of pretty things into virtually every home every day. Use gift-giving this Christmas to develop responsibility and values in children, and strengthen your parenting skills.

While adults are wearing themselves out shopping, children expect that parents will take care of each other with gift ideas for them to give to each parent. Why not stray from that tradition a bit and encourage children to give mom or dad time? Parents can reciprocate by giving their time to children.

Give A Christmas Gift of Self

This doesn't mean doing away with material things; it means extending gift giving to a more personal and caring level. A gift of self is simple. Dad, for example, might point out to his son that mom needs help around the house. Even if Junior has his chores to do there will always be something special he can add for a specified length of time. It might be something that the mother particularly dislikes. In the same way, Mom can suggest something for Dad.

Young boys washing dishes

A few suggestions are given below for both parents to try. Of course, the gift must be age-appropriate too.

  • Wash dishes (or clean off the table and load the washer).
  • Vacuum at least part of the house.
  • Keep all household garbage cans empty.
  • Walk the family dog or clean kitty’s litter box.

There is no shortage of household chores to be included. The idea is to help develop responsibility by doing and encourage the belief that the things individuals do are appreciated. It's a good practice for self-concept enhancement.

The length of the commitment should be decided by discussion between a parent and child. A good way to "wrap" the gift is to print up a gift certificate on the computer and have the child sign it. The certificate should spell out the conditions and leave no misunderstandings.

The Christmas gift of self is best started when children are old enough to understand the idea of giving. Teenagers are not as likely to suddenly warm up to the practice, although it is certainly worth a try - especially if it is to be expected for everybody in the family.

Parents can sign similar contracts with children by offering Saturdays at the park or attendance at a movie. Be creative. The only rule: do something for a family member. But don't encourage children to promise to make an "A" on an upcoming test. That might not be possible, and could result in a feeling of failure on behalf of the child. Don't let grades define children. Be sure the child can fulfill the selected task.

Christmas Gifts of Self Strengthen Parenting Skills

Mother hugging child

The practice enhances communication about how individuals contribute to the family and clarifies individual roles. It also sends a message that people matter as much as "stuff". Parents should gloat over these gifts to assure the children that they are appreciated. The appreciation shown enhances intrinsic motivation.

Another version of the practice is to have each family member find a way to help an elderly or ailing neighbor (or member of the extended family). Plan a little project that involves everyone. Don't get caught in the holiday hassle. Promote family virtues and responsibility. It helps children develop positive values.

About the author:

Harvey Craft
 is a retired educator and former principal, with extensive experience in teaching grades six through to twelve. He is NBPTS certified in Adolescent Science and now spends his time in educational research, consulting, and freelance writing.
Click here to contact or read more articles by Harvey Craft.

Tags : Christmas, gifts, present, kids, children, giving, helping, responsibility, values

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