During All the Gift Giving and Receiving This Christmas, Please Remember the Greatest Gift of All!

“Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”

2 Corinthians 9:15

While we are all busy giving and receiving gifts this year, we can easily get caught up in the material aspect of Christmas.  As Christians though, it is critical that we remember and celebrate the greatest gift that was ever given to us.  God gave His only Son to us as a special gift!  The scripture verse at 2 Corinthians 9:15 succinctly sums up the reason for the season. 

From my family to yours, Merry Christmas!

What To Do When Your Children Are Acting Selfish

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
— Philippians 2:3-4

“Buy me that toy.” “Change the tv channel - my favorite show is on.” “Mommy - get off the computer- I’m bored.” Do any of these sound familiar? They are all statements we may have heard from our own children and brushed off as childish behavior. While interactions like these do happen, they should never become normal. Unchecked, your children can continue to develop these selfish qualities more and more.

Children usually do not make these statements out of malice for other people, but out of their understanding for their own needs and desires. The only thing that matters to them is what they want at that specific time. The key is to stop this behavior when it happens – right away.  Do not make excuses for and tolerate it.  

How many times have your children tugged at your clothing or verbally demanded your attention to tell you something while you were on the phone? The next time they do this tell them that you are having a conversation and that you will speak to them when it is over.  Be firm and polite.  And, be sure to actually speak with them about their inappropriate behavior and not go on to some other task.  When you do,  you can say something such as, “I was speaking with someone on the phone. Please do not interrupt me.  Save it until I am done. I would love to talk about it after I’m finished.” Let them know that their actions were selfish and why.  Catching them while they are doing the act is important to helping them stop it.  Talking with them about it helps them understand what they are doing wrong and why their behavior is wrong.

Children may not always comprehend why being “self-centered” is wrong. Today’s Bible verse is very helpful.  Philippians 2:3-4 says “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Prioritizing the needs of those around us above our own is important because God says it is. It brings out our best character, shows the people we interact with  that we care for and respect them, and most of all, it is pleasing unto God. Being self-centered completely contradicts His Word.

Show your children that their thoughts and feelings should not be the only ones that are heard and respected.  How are other children reacting to their selfish behavior?  For example, if your son has a friend over to play, but he is refusing to share his toys, stop him, take him out of the room, and talk to him about it.  Explain to him how his behavior is affecting his friend and making his friend feel.  Ask him what he can do to make his friend’s visit more pleasant.  When the discussion has finished, have him return to the room and observe his behavior to make sure that he is actually following through on different, kinder behavior.

When you observe your children being considerate of others and not being selfish, let them know that out loud to reinforce their positive behavior.  This is one of the most important ways to stop selfish behavior.  Take your time to describe the selfless act that was done and make it clear that everyone benefits when they act that way.

As parents, we want to be there for our children and provide for their needs.  It’s their constant wants and demands that we need to control so that they do not control us. 

Teaching Kindness and Compassion To Our Children

Galatians 5:22-23 lists kindness as one of the fruits of the Spirit that we should develop.   In this fast paced world and with all the negative information on television and the internet, it is even more important that we cultivate kindness and compassion in our children.

What are kind acts?  Jesus modeled kindness through such acts as healing the blind and eating with sinners. There are those acts that you can do in your neighborhood or community and those that you can do at home.  One of the acts of kindness that I have done over the years is to help feed homeless persons, not only during the holidays, but also during other times of the year.  Even when I travel, I try to spend time volunteering in some service capacity.

Once I was on a trip to attend a conference in a certain city and arranged for dinner with a friend who lived in that city.  After he picked me up and we were driving to the restaurant, I expressed my concern about how many homeless people were in his city as I felt there were many more as compared to other places I had visited.  My friend commented that I was the only person he knew who actually noticed homeless persons.  I was shocked by his statement.  

Parents can cultivate kindness by having their children volunteer to participate in many activities in their community.  Cleanups in specific areas of town, mowing the lawn for an elderly neighbor, babysitting for a single parent – these are all acts of kindness and compassion.

At home, parents are role models as children imitate them.  Parents should not expect their children to be kind if they are not.  Acts of kindness and words of kindness should be a regular part of a family’s daily ritual.  These include helping carry in bags of groceries; thanking each other for a thoughtful word or gesture; and assisting with a chore or a task.   

As the poem in today’s blog states, kindness and compassion never fail, whether in our communities or in our homes.  It is up to parents to nurture and develop those attributes in their children.

Help Your Children To Be Gift Givers and Not Just Gift Receivers

As we approach Christmas Day, we, as parents, spend a lot of time thinking about and planning what to get our children for Christmas.  We want our gifts to be very special for them.  But consider this: God gave us His Son Jesus as the greatest gift for mankind.  God loves us so much that He is a giver!  During this holiday season, what about spending just as much time and effort teaching your children about being givers of gifts?  

Gift giving involves quite a bit of caring and planning.  First, select someone for whom your children can purchase a gift this Christmas.  That person can be a relative or someone who does not have a family.  Or is there someone in the hospital?

Second, have them find out what the person would like as a gift.  That involves getting to know the person deeply, not just in a casual or random way.  What are this person’s likes and dislikes?  If the person enjoys music, find out what specific kind of music.

Third, gift giving involves taking the time to find and purchase the appropriate gift.  Where can that special gift be purchased?  Is it available online or do you have to actually go to the store to purchase it?

Fourth, the gift should be wrapped with festive paper and ribbons, to make it look colorful, attractive and appealing.  This also takes time to select the specific paper and other ornaments to go on the package and then to carefully and lovingly wrap it.

Fifth, have your children add a special name tag or card to the gift.  Encourage them to use their creativity in creating and drawing the images.  This can be a whole project in and of itself.

Sixth, set aside that special time when your children can give the gift.  Make it unique.   And, remember to carefully observe the response of the person receiving this gift and the tremendous joy it brings.

Your children will remember these exceptional times and gifts.  They will also learn to be generous and to love and care about others, rather than just focusing on themselves.  

 

The Greatest Christmas Gift of All Time

As we are busy making our plans and buying gifts for our friends and loved ones for Christmas, let us not lose focus about why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.   As Christians, we believe that Jesus was the greatest gift ever given to mankind.  God gave us His only son Jesus so that we could have eternal life.  Why did God do this for us?  John 3:16 gives us the answer: because of His immense love for us.  

The true meaning of Christmas is found in its name: “Christ”, who is Jesus and “mas” which is a celebration.  Christmas is an extremely special day for us.  I encourage you to spend time worshiping Jesus and thanking Him for all that He has done for you and your loved ones.   From my family to yours - have a blessed and peaceful Christmas!

Author Soraya Diase Coffelt