10 mistakes parents make during the holidays
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Yule Be Sorry!1 of 11
As a parent, your best holiday intentions—and all those gifts—don't always lead to the happiness and gratitude you'd expect from your kids. To head-off potential disappointments, tantrums and tears, here are ten parenting mistakes you can avoid this season.
Family Matters2 of 11
The Flub: Focusing more on the presents, rather than your presence.
The Fix: "Contrary to popular belief, what kids love (and remember) most about the holidays is not the gifts, but being together as family," says Fran Walfish, author of The Self-Aware Parent. Prioritize spending time with kids, rather than running around from store to store looking for that hard-to-find gift.
List Serve3 of 11
The Flub: Getting children everything on their list.
The Fix: "The holidays aren't the time for parents to be personal shoppers for kids," says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety and Freeing Your Child from Anxiety. Let them know ahead of time that they may not get everything they want. That way, if a Nerf Stampede isn't under the tree, then they'll be prepared.
No Hard Feelings4 of 11
The Flub: Getting overly upset when your kids don't love their gifts.
The Fix: "Take a deep breath—usually, your child isn't trying to be ungrateful; they may have just had their heart set on something else," says Chansky. She recommends calmly letting your child know how you feel. (Try: I'm sad you don't like what I chose for you, but I understand if it's not what you want.) "Though these moments can be hard, if parents can lead the way, it will lead to better communication and understanding," notes Chansky.
Fact or Fiction?5 of 11
The Flub: Keeping up the Santa charade.
The Fix: As a parent, you can follow your child's lead on this. "Kids will naturally come to doubt certain aspects of the story," says Shumaker, author of It's OK Not to Share...And Other Renegade Rules. "If a preschooler asks if Santa is real, you can ask them back, 'What do you think?'" For older kids, she suggests being more forthcoming. "With siblings of different ages, it's important for the older one to understand how much joy the younger one gets out of the story, so they don't spoil it," she adds.
Fair Share6 of 11
The Flub: Forcing kids to share a new toy right away.
The Fix: "Give a child space and respect that they may need to own and enjoy their new toy before they can share it," says Shumaker, who adds that kids of any age need to feel a sense of ownership before they can truly share.
What Gives?7 of 11
The Flub: Forgetting to make kids part of the gift-giving process.
The Fix: "Ask them what they think Grandma or Grandpa would like, take them shopping with you, and let them help wrap gifts," says Sandy Fowler, host of the radio show Heart Filled Holidays. "You'll bring their focus back to others and help them grow an appreciation of the act of giving."
Routine Maintenance8 of 11
The Flub: Throwing kids' schedules aside once winter break begins.
The Fix: "Without the routine and structure of school during winter vacation, kids' energy levels often escalate and structure helps calm them down," says Walfish. To help, she suggests keeping bedtimes and mealtimes the same.
Great Outdoors9 of 11
The Flub: Keeping kids cooped up inside.
The Fix: Bundle up! To encourage outdoor time, create a tradition around doing something active, says Shumaker. Consider building a snowman every Christmas Day. If there's no snow where you live, then suggest a walk to check out the holiday decorations. Get kids involved by having them pick one house as a winner.
Teen Takeover10 of 11
The Flub: Expecting older kids to participate in EVERYTHING.
The Fix: "Rather than insisting that your teen do things as they have done before, collaborate and seek out their suggestions," says Chansky. They may have outgrown caroling with the family or baking cookies, but perhaps they want to helm decorating the tree.
Mind the (Generation) Gap11 of 11
The Flub: Not making grandparents part of the celebration.
The Fix: "Holidays provide an opportunity for the generations to connect with each other," says Ruth Nemzoff, author of Don't Roll Your Eyes: Making In-Laws Into Family. If distance is an issue, she suggests getting on Skype and having kids open their gifts while Gram and Gramps are watching.