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4 Ways to Make Holidays Better for Kids

It’s easy for children to be smitten with the magic of the holidays. Fun presents, extra treats and a vacation from school—there’s a lot to like. But with the freedom and excess of the season, sometimes kids can get a little carried away. For most families, there will be a point when the kids get cranky, or greedy about presents, or would rather play a video game than talk to Grandma. Here are some tips to keep kids happy and ready to enjoy whatever the season brings.

Gifts, gifts, gifts
Getting presents is a high point of the holidays for any kid, but they shouldn’t be the only focus. Adults know that giving presents is  just as rewarding as getting them, and we should teach that to our kids. Even when kids are too young to buy a present, they can still make one, or help you pick out something. Volunteering at a toy drive, or giving your kids a little money to give to a charity of their choice are all great ideas for getting children in a more generous mood.
The gift of education is a timeless gift; consider a creative writing class where kids can grow their writing skills while exploring the art of storytelling – or a public speaking course where kids can learn tips and tricks to express themselves, structure and present speech and overcome stage fright. 

Let them help out
There’s a lot of extra work around the holidays — putting up decorations, cooking big dinners, throwing parties. Children can help set the table, decorate the house, and wrap presents. If they’re too young to wrap, they can help by assisting you. At holiday time, the preparations are often as fun and as meaningful as the end product. Plus, this way kids won’t feel left out.

Keep routines
Try to keep some things constant. Kids still need snack time, special attention from you and need a chance to unwind before bedtime. At family gatherings when they notice the kids are “getting antsy,” psychologist Rachel Busman says she and her sister give them their baths, get them into pajamas, and turn on a movie. “We know when they need to wind down, and no one judges us for excusing ourselves from the table to do these things,” she says. “In fact, my sister and I enjoy some great conversations during this time.”

Remember they’re kids
Some holiday traditions depend on kids being on their best behavior: lengthy services, parties with lots of strangers, elaborate meals that may not appeal to picky eaters. Try to keep those to a minimum and customize festivities for your kids’ frustration level. Don’t schedule more than one demanding event in a day, and make sure to include physical activity and plenty of downtime. Your kids will be grateful — and so will you.
Rachel Ehmke, Child mind Institute