Modeling Contentment for Your Kids

Christmas is coming! Cue the relentless toy commercials, mailboxes stuffed with toy store fliers, and malls overflowing with even more toys! It’s enough to turn even the most generous-spirited child into a self-centered, tantrum-throwing brat.

Our culture sends our kids the powerful message that Christmas is about fulfilling their wishes. And while most parents prefer their kids learn to be happy with what they have, it’s terribly easy for them to fall into the cultural Christmas trap and spoil their kids, giving them every item on their lists.

So how do you teach your kids contentment? The good news is you don’t have to ditch the Christmas tree, stop singing carols, or even skip the Christmas presents! The bad news—well, there is no bad news. Teaching your kids contentment at Christmas is fun and rewarding for your whole family.

How Can I Be Content?

First, let’s start with a good understanding of contentment. Being content is the spiritual state of not needing something else to feel whole. When you’re content, you’re not motivated by stuff.

The key to teaching your kids contentment is to be content yourself. Kids imitate what they see, and you’re setting the example. Don’t get sucked into the illusion that you’ll be happy when you have that new car, that new home or $1 million in the bank. Stuff does not equal happiness! Get about the business of being happy now.

A New Point of View

If your kids can’t seem to get over the idea that Christmas is focused on them, change their perspective. Make Christmas about what they can give—to their family members, to neighbors and to the needy.

Your donations could be monetary, but giving time and energy will have a bigger impact. Look for ways your family can interact directly with the people they’re helping. Once kids are focusing outside themselves, they’ll have a stronger appreciation for what they already have, and they’ll more willing to think about others first.

Gifts That Last Forever

Do you remember what you got for Christmas when you were 8 years old? Do you still have it? Play with it everyday? Probably not. And guess what—your kids are the same way.

That super-special gift will be forgotten in a couple of years. But the memories you make while baking homemade treats for the kids’ teachers, watching Christmas movies together, or simply decorating the Christmas tree will last forever.

So What Goes Under the Tree?

Christmas is a time of giving, so it’s natural to give gifts to your kids as part of the celebration. You can keep the stuff from taking center stage by making it clear with your words and your actions that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ.

Gift giving and receiving will also teach your kids another valuable lesson about contentment: Stuff is fun, but Christmas is much bigger than stuff.

You can show your kids how much fun a contented Christmas can be with our special edition of the new Junior’s Adventures book, The Best Christmas Ever. Your kids will learn along with Junior and his kid sister, Rachel, that giving makes for a merrier Christmas than receiving. The Best Christmas Ever includes bonus pages with craft, activity and recipe ideas to get the whole family involved.

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