We live in a hyper-connected world where people’s tragedies and struggles go viral, where we can be reached anytime, anywhere – by strangers as well as friends. While being informed and aware is a good thing, I fear that we are unwittingly hurting the mental health of our kids and young people – not to mention ourselves. We weren’t made for this.
Sometimes, our kids don’t experience the world the same way we do. There are allergies, sensory sensitivities, and other challenges that would make the events that we loved more stressful than thrilling, more anxiety-inducing than awe-inspiring.
You can give your kids… and yourself… a gift. The gift of an appropriate and child-informed holiday season. I’m not saying that we let our littles become dictators who determine what we do (and don’t) do, but instead of chasing after recreating the past and keeping up with the neighbors down the street, we do what works for our family. At our pace. And don’t feel guilty about the rest.
Instead of feeling guilty, I’ve learned some simple tricks to bring the outdoors in, which inspire lots of creativity and exploration.
When we connect with people, even through their biographies, they can inspire and challenge us. When we read about others with similar interests who go on to do great things, that makes us more willing to try hard things as well.
We reach the “early chapter book” stage, and all of a sudden, we go from nice, friendly, stories about families supporting each other and getting along to this focus on everything annoying, mean-spirited, selfish, and disrespectful. Here’s a list of good, quality, enjoyable literature in that upper elementary level (grades 2-4, primarily) that does NOT celebrate mean, catty girls or rude, potty-humored boys… but are still fun to read.
This list is going to be the anti-list to those “hot toys” out there. Nothing. I repeat. Nothing on those lists is being marketed to inspire creativity and open-ended exploration. Instead, these toys are specifically designed for a cheap thrill that your kids will soon tire of and then move on to the next craze. So… turn off the commercials, hide the catalogs, and think about ways to inspire your little ones to think and grow in creative ways.