Though this is a stressful time of year – this year perhaps more than ever – it is finally time to kick back and enjoy our families over the holidays. Two things to remember:
- A crazy pile of presents isn't going to make your kids lastingly happy, so let it go if that last gift you ordered online never came. (Or if you weren't able to buy gifts this year.) Kids who focus on materialistic stuff aren't as happy as others, and they are more likely to get sick and have behavior problems. Use this time to refocus kids on the things that really matter.
- Time with you, their loving and joyful parents, IS quite likely to contribute to their long-term well being. What kids really want, and need, is your love and attention. (Yes, even your moody teenagers.) The holidays spawn loads of family traditions—baking cookies, picking out a tree, caroling, parties to catch up with people you love, watching Christmas specials on TV, lighting the Menorah. Family traditions and togetherness DO offer lasting happiness. Social scientists have studied this specifically, and they've found that the people who spend more time with family (and also those who have more religious experiences) during the holidays are happier than those who focus on gifts.
If you are a part of the 1 million plus people loving Kelly Corrigan right now (because you watched the video in my last posting about strong women), you'll like this holiday video about her family's holiday traditions. (I'm it in too, espousing the science of raising happy kids over the holidays.)
© 2008 Christine Carter, Ph.D.
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