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Christmas wish tree: What is the purpose of a present?

Parents often ask Ly Kasvandik, the trainer and advisor of parents, similar questions before Christmas. These questions are related to buying presents, what types of wishes to consider and how to influence the child.

"My main message is that love and warmth, which we want for the child, cannot be measured in things, but it reflects from the eyes of the happy child," says Ly Kasvandik already expressing her main viewpoint at the beginning. In order not to fall into the trap of buying but to find a deeper meaning for the presents, the parent has to start with conscious work in due time and define the present wishes step by step.

This requires the parent's interest and preparedness to listen to the child's wishes and visions of what could be wanted and what they like to do. “It is not as necessary to focus on presents as it is to find out what the child would like to develop in themselves, where they like to be and go and what they could do together. Listen and offer your options," advises Kasvandik.

The situation in which practical and vital things for the child are got for them, is not that rare anymore. This is the new normal, especially if their classmates are increasing the standard with more and more vain and expensive things. In this way, the child could get upset if the parent suggests Santa to bring them a new tracksuit. "This is the place for the parent to say that it is a large expense for me and a lot of work must be done to achieve this. This can be used to raise the child's awareness about the value of one thing or another. If there is a comparison moment with other children, then it would be good to reflect back on the child that you understand that it seems unfair but everything in life is not equal and we are looking at things from the point of view of our capabilities. This is influencing and developing the child in a good way so that they learn to sense the value of things."

Ask why it is important to them

Finding solutions together is a topic which parents are not able to handle well with their children. They don't really want to listen to what their child has to say; you never know, they could want everything. This is why when offering solutions, it is very important that the parent is able to listen to everything the child is offering and trust that they can find the most suitable option together . And that could be a very practical thing.

By having this type of discussion, the child learns to think ahead and look into themselves. For example, why do they need that exact hoodie or a special ball? It could be said that the child wants to stand out and it is important for them to get along with those who already have similar things. "There could be a breakthrough and realisation that if they have similar things, then they are not as eye-catching any more. So let's continue thinking about what else there could be."

Ly Kasvandik also emphasises that the possibility to spend time together with the children should not be excluded from the discussion. "The present could contain something nice to do together – e.g. a long weekend together where we could to something that we don't do every day."

Do elves exist?

Those topics and questions might not be talked about daily in the case that the child believes in elves and the parents receive the present wishes in a letter addressed to Santa. Here, Kasvandik suggests to start correspondence with the child by putting themselves in the shoes of Santa, which is in turn exciting and developmental for the child. "For example one can ask by saying "Yesterday I saw how something happened to your sister and you seemed sad. Would like to write to me about it?””
At the same time, there are parents who say directly and honestly that elves don't exist. What would be best for the child – to believe or not to believe? "It has been discussed whether Christmas should be kept on the level of a fairy tale. Psychologists have suggested that believing in the fairy tale world helps the toddler to be in the world of creativity and thus agreements can be reached in an easier way. If we take that away from the child, then we have a little adult in front of us," explains Kasvandik. "Children actually like the buzz around Christmas and a time that is different to an otherwise dull daily life."

If the parents allow the children to enter the fairy tale land, they have to prepare themselves for the fact that someone could tell them the truth and the child will come and ask you about it. "You're in trouble if you were making finger prints in the snow the night before and today your child let's you know that their friend said that the elf is played by your mother or father. But this can also be solved in a playful way and create a situation where waiting for Santa is still exciting for the child. In doing so, the parent has to also be creative." 

The psychologist doesn't think that scaring them with elves is a correct method of upbringing. The otherwise good characters also get a bad reputation. "We want the arrival of the elves and Santa to be an anticipated moment, otherwise we are just scaring them. Fear does not create nor maintain a good relationship." 

Kasvandik suggests to keep the excitement up because anticipation and the positive energy accompanying it creates a better relationship with the child, and in this way it is easier to reach agreements with the child and discuss more complex things. "This helps to open doors in communication with the child and keep them open," said Kasvandik as a final thought.

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