The Parenting Coach: Locating Our Inner Holiday Spirit

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gilabrown110BY GILA BROWN, M.A.

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” ~ Denis Waitley

While getting in the holiday spirit ought to be a good thing, it often means a growing to-do list and increased stress. There is a lot of pressure this time of year, from having to buy all the right gifts to gearing up for extended visits with family. The season is full of potential for gratitude, love and peace; but so often those sentiments get put aside while we busy ourselves with holiday logistics, traveling with children, planning for and preparing large meals, facing relatives who may be less-than supportive, and making everyone happy without breaking the bank.

But, as the quote above reminds us, happiness is not about having a perfect holiday meal, reaching a certain vacation spot or getting just the right cashmere sweater. Happiness is a choice we make with every breath we take.

So here are three tips to help keep the true spirit of the holidays in focus this year.

Give Thanks– Most kids have been trained to say thank you at the appropriate times, as dictated by social norms. However, how often do we stop and thank our kids? Regardless of how frequently we use our words to tell children what to do, they always pay more attention to our actions. If we want our kids to learn to feel and express true gratitude, then we need to model that for them. There is no better way than to show our appreciation for them. Find ways this holiday season to let your kids know how truly grateful you are for all the joy they bring to your life.

Give of Yourself– “Love yourself by loving others. Help yourself by helping others.”- Baba Hari Ji. There is no better way to remind ourselves how truly blessed we are than to find ways to give to others. Selflessness can be as simple as bringing someone a cup of water or giving a sincere smile to a passerby. It is the act of giving without the expectation of receiving anything in return. Every moment brings a chance to give of ourselves and each time we do, we model the same behavior for our kids.

Reconnect– The holidays offer a myriad of ways in which we can engage with our kids. Children know that we have to spend time with them. They want to know that we want to spend time with them. Find opportunities this holiday season to spend some quality time with your kids. Engage them in decisions, family activities or take on a project together. Baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, wrapping gifts or giving to those less fortunate, are fantastic opportunities to be creative, get to know your kids and strengthen the bond you share.

Remember what this season is all about. Life is short and precious. May you find joy and peace in every moment.

© Gila Brown, 2009

Gila Brown, M.A. is a Child Development Expert and Parent Coach, with over 10 years of teaching experience. She specializes in parenting school-age children with grace, using principles of attachment parenting, positive discipline and effective communication. Visit to sign up for a free newsletter.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.