Emphasize Giving Not Taking Throughout the Fall Holidays

Jay M. Greenfeld, Ph.D., C. Psych.

The preliminary round of the Fall holiday season has begun and one that tends to gain the most recognition due to the closure of all schools in October is Thanksgiving. Although most students would give the nod to Halloween, it is essential the right attention is given to gratitude and expressing thank you for what we can be appreciative of. Despite my naïve belief that when we were restricted, limited, and forced to distance during COVID, emerging from that would lead to more gratitude, appreciation, and connectedness because it was absent for so long. Sadly and realistically, our children (AND many parents) have become more selfish rather than selfless and come to expect everything immediately. They are growing up in a world where anything they want is not only immediately available, it takes little to no effort to attain it. Consequently, our children are focusing more on what they want, expressing less gratitude for whatever they desire, and the focus has predominantly shifted to themselves rather than what is best for the collective whole.

As we evaluate the new beginnings that emerge with the season, it will be healthy for all in your home to stop, step back, and focus on what is best for the group, the whole, the community, rather than the self. Ironically, shortly after Thanksgiving, many mask our kids up, cover their true identities in costumes, and send them around the neighborhood requesting pails of candy. Perhaps this year to help your children feel much deeper psychological benefits throughout the Fall, empower them to shift their focus to gratitude, patience, and giving to others, rather than take and expect for themselves. Use these next few weeks to pay closer attention to what your children can give, rather than take. Whether that be giving of their time, giving of their collected candy, giving to food banks, and above all giving up the focus on the individual self and instead focusing on the greater good of others. As adults, (and especially in the current world), we are often just as guilty of focusing on our own needs and neglecting that of others. We are getting worked up about posting anything we can on social media so that viewers can celebrate what we have ordered, where we have travelled, what new desserts we have created and eaten, and often these individually focused images are a facade of real life.

It is time to shift away from the emphasis we place on ourselves and what is best for me, myself, and I, but rather stop, and pay closer attention to what would benefit a collective group of people from all ages. Model the behaviour for your children to help others, demand less, remain patient through hard work, and give of your time to others without needing an instant reward. The change will lead to more appreciation, less stress, and happier tolerant children in and out of our schools.


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