What is the problem?
"Mom and Dad, get a Christmas tree, please, please!" "Send my letter to St. Nicholas, please. Just be careful not to get it lost." "I'll make snowflakes for the windows. I need a lot of white paper. "And when will we bake gingerbread cookies?" "Is it true that St. Nicholas doesn't exist?" A similar stream of questions, requests, and initiatives is heard by most parents when New Year's advertisements, New Year's series of cartoons, New Year's songs appear on TV screens, and the overflowing boxes of tangerines, gift sets of candies and decorated Christmas trees can be seen everywhere in shops.
Children especially rejoice in the winter holidays, because on a subconscious level they understand that the time of miracles is approaching, and they want to touch and join these miracles. That is why they strive to create a festive atmosphere, remembering family traditions and inventing a variety of games. Often parents choose the position not to intrude and not to interfere in the New Year's entertainment of children. "Let them play," they think. But in reality, a child needs to prepare for the New Year holidays with their family: to decorate a Christmas tree, think about the gifts, decorate the house, help adults with their affairs.
By the way, parents can not only join in the children's fun but also offer them a variety of adventures in preparation for the New Year, that is, to create a fairy tale at least during an expected break.
What is the solution?
Inna Ilchuk recommends starting preparations for the New Year at least two or three weeks before the holiday so that the child will have pleasant memories of the warm New Year's atmosphere at home and active family preparation for a long time.
"It's really important for our children to stay in the New Year's euphoria as long as possible to let the fairy tale into everyday life and believe in miracles. You know, we, adults, remember not only the gifts under the Christmas tree, which we dreamed of as a child but also the preparation for the holiday: writing letters, decorating the Christmas tree, embellishing windows, making paper garlands," says the psychologist.
To help children feel the festive atmosphere, she offers a time-tested effective technique: creating a DIY New Year's calendar with children.
How does it work?
First, you need to think of daily tasks that your family will do for 2-3 weeks before the New Year. Here you can get creative and come up with many original ideas for fun. After a family brainstorm, you should start making a calendar: draw the basic template, think about how best to place all the necessary details, decorate with children's drawings, stickers, sequins, and more.
Inna Ilchuk also suggested several possible tasks for children:
- Write a letter to St. Nicholas or Santa Claus.
- Choose Christmas toys.
The psychologist notes: "It's necessary to give a child the opportunity to make the first contributions to prepare for the New Year from the age of 4-5, so the choice of a toy can be entrusted to your kid. This toy may not quite fit the overall Christmas decor, but the child will realize that they're involved in family decisions and that their opinion is important. And if you give them a little money for decoration, you will teach your child to manage finances from an early age."
- Make Christmas tree toys.
Inna Ilchuk advises holding a small game with children, which will strengthen their faith in miracles. To do this, parents need to convince their children that everything they draw on toys will be given to them the next year. For example, a doll, typewriter, briefcase, dog, or kitten.
- Arrange family cleaning with New Year's music playing.
- Buy or make gifts for mom, dad, grandparents.
"Children should first be told that St. Nicholas or Santa Claus come to children, not adults. Then advise them to choose a gift for family and arrange a surprise for them. Then the child will understand the value of the holiday, learn to give and receive. And this is a very useful skill," the psychologist emphasizes.
- Decorate the Christmas tree and the house.
- Paint the windows.
- Visit the New Year's show.
- Bake cookies and decorate them.
- Watch a New Year's movie with the whole family with popcorn or other delicacies.
- Make a snowman.
- Go on a sled ride.
- Go to the rink.
- Visit the New Year's fair.
What could go wrong?
According to Inna Ilchuk, children quickly get tired of things that require a lot of time. And this is quite normal because they get tired of monotonous tasks. Therefore, parents should have alternatives in-store, or they should, in some way, nurture the interests of children. In such cases, the psychologist advises turning on New Year's music in the background, telling children interesting stories from their childhood, offering help with tasks.
Will it work?
New Year's calendar is a very universal option for parents who want to create a cozy holiday atmosphere in the house and organize a fairy tale for their children. The main thing is to come up with tasks that will be exciting for the whole family because all its members must actively cooperate, help and support each other.
"Adults often stop believing in miracles, but everyone needs them. Thanks to the preparation for the New Year holidays with children, we can regain faith in the fairy tale," Inna Ilchuk emphasizes.
Even more useful solutions!
The child's first doubts in New Year's characters may hinder a New Year's mood. According to the psychologist, these doubts mostly appear at the age of 5-6. When a child turns 7-9 years old, they realize that it is not Santa Claus who puts presents under the Christmas tree.
Inna Ilchuk explained how to talk to a child when they openly ask if St. Nicholas/ Santa Claus exists:
- Don't convince a child that fairy-tale New Year's characters are real, and all the counterarguments they heard at school or kindergarten are a lie.
"It is better to answer honestly because during this period children develop trust in their parents. If, for example, they heard somewhere that the heroes of New Year's fairy tales are fiction of adults and decided to ask you about it, and you unwaveringly defend the opposite position, then when children are convinced of the unreality of Santa Claus in a year or two, their trust will disappear," says the psychologist.
- After speaking honestly, parents should still save their children's faith in the fairy tale.
As Inna Ilchuk advises, children need to be explained that they have a choice: to believe or not, but at the same time, we can say that St. Nicholas or Santa Claus come only to those who believe in them.
It's worth mentioning that St. Nicholas existed. In addition, children should read a story about his good deeds and why on St. Nicholas Day children find presents under their pillows.
The psychologist assures: "From childhood, one shouldn't disappoint a child and say that his favorite New Year's characters don't exist. They must believe in miracles: we read fairy tales. Children will still have time to face real life, and in childhood, it is important to create an atmosphere of wonder and beauty. Therefore, the belief in miracles should be maintained until the child asks the first questions."
And a few more bonus decisions from psychologist Inna Ilchuk. If a child notices that you are putting a gift under a pillow or a Christmas tree, and tells you about it, you can explain to them that:
- You just checked to see if the gift was signed to make sure it was for them.
- You were worried about whether Santa Claus would have enough money for an expensive gift.
- Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus gave a gift to you.
Miracles are already knocking on our windows, so let's let them into our homes to feel the New Year's atmosphere and share happy emotions with our family. Happy Holidays!
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