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'Ask the Learning Advisor -- Ideas for Raising Successful Children'

Relieve pressure at the holidays:
Make plans with children    
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[DEC. 18, 2004]  Q:  The holidays are approaching and my stress level is already over the top! There are gifts to buy, holiday meals to plan, relatives visiting… It's simply too much. I know it's supposed to be a joyous time, but I'm not looking forward to it. What can I do?

A: There's a lot of work to be done in any family. Most parents need help, especially during the holiday season. But there is an answer, and it can work for you. The solution is to redistribute responsibility for holiday preparations to the whole family -- including your children.

Learning doesn't stop just because school is out. Holidays are a great time to teach your children responsibility and, once they learn it, they'll carry the benefits back to school -- and throughout their lives. You'll also be developing great new family holiday traditions. Here's how to do it.

Sit down tonight with the whole family and a calendar. The subject is holiday plans. Make a list of what activities are most important to everyone. Then figure out what everyone -- adults and children alike -- can do to make these important things happen. Listen to your children's ideas. They want and need to have real responsibilities. Ask what each one wants to be responsible for.

If you don't get volunteers, offer some choices. You might say, "This is the week we will do our baking. What are some things you want to bake this year?" This approach cuts down on a lot of those "When are we gonna… ?" questions.

Together, brainstorm a list of gifts to buy or to make. Decide who will be responsible for what, by when. Older children can help deliver gifts and food to needy families. Teens can also help address family holiday cards, get gifts ready to mail and stand in line at the post office.

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Younger children can be responsible for setting and decorating the table for a holiday dinner. They can also help with wrapping gifts. And, of course, everyone shares with daily chores -- help with dishes, food preparation, laundry and so forth.

Develop a no-nag method of reminding everyone. Post a chart on the refrigerator or other prominent place in your home. Each day, family members can check off their jobs as they complete them.

Responsibility will give your children opportunities to shine, as visiting aunts, uncles and friends praise their efforts.

Don't forget to schedule time every day for fun, to laugh and to just enjoy being together. Show your children you need them and that you rely on them. And get ready for the best holiday season ever -- for the whole family.

* * *

For more information about helping children learn or to submit your own question to The Learning Advisor, go to http://advisor.parent-institute.com. All questions will receive a prompt answer by e-mail.

© Copyright 2004, The Parent Institute.

Note: This feature follows the "advisor" spelling used by the source, although guidelines for news writing specify the spelling "adviser." 

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