The Holiday Psychology
Around the holidays, we play this little ethical game with our children. We remind them that their good behavior will grant them gifts. We tell them that they should be more charitable and helpful, especially now. We tell them that Santa is watching.
The other day, I used a similar line after my sons were misbehaving on our way out of a video game arcade.
Later, on the car ride home, my eldest started crying. He didn’t want to share why, but that evening he finally said that he was worried he wasn’t going to get any presents.
So much for the holiday psychology trick.
What that little moment reminded me was to drop the “do-this-and-you’ll-get-that” routine, and to simply keep modeling good behavior.
It’s one of the most challenging things we parents struggle with. How to get these small humans in our lives to do what we ask, and yet we can’t even do right by them.
In those instances, I remind myself that I’m not perfect nor will I ever be. Besides, as much of the shining guide I can try to be for my children, they are their own people, and they will face a lifetime of influence outside of my own that will shape their personality.
That, combined with their own predispositions will impact who and what they’re supposed to be.
And those predispositions, of course, are based on the DNA mixture of my wife and I, along with generations of our respective cultural and societal imprints.
Simply put, all of our children are all of us and all of those before us. It’s why taunts like “Nanny nanny boo boo” have been around since the caveman days.
But I suppose all we can strive for is kindness. Spend a little more time chatting with a neighbor. Give more of a tip than you might normally. Call someone by their name. Tell them you love them. Do all this in front of the kids.
Normalize being good. Normalize it all year long.