Teaching Selflessness During the Holidays

Teaching Selflessness During the Holidays

Now that we’ve entered the holiday season, it is time to reflect on the true meaning of the holidays and the importance of selflessness. It is a season of giving, gratitude, and renewal.

Helping kids learn selflessness is a long-term process that involves a great deal of modeling by parents, as well as guidance in several ways. Here are some perspectives, ideas, and suggestions for you to consider as you go through the holidays with your kids.

Ensure that they have an attachment foundation of love and trust
Narcissism, which is the ultimate antithesis of selflessness, grows from one of two very different types of soils. The deepest type sprouts from the seeds of abuse, neglect, or chronic criticism, when early in life the child comes to view the world as a dog-eat-dog place.

The first year of life is all about knowing that someone loves us enough to consistently meet our physical and emotional needs. When we’re loved in this way, we have the foundation necessary for eventually learning how to love others selflessly.

Teach them to serve you and their family
Narcissism also springs from the soil of permissiveness and overindulgence. Are your kids working hard to serve you or are you doing all the work? Kids should be expected to do their fair share of work around the house so that they don’t believe their parents are slaves.

Teach them to look at insides, not just outsides
Selfless people look at others from a deep perspective, attempting to understand what is going on in the other person’s heart. As a result, they are far less likely to become needlessly offended and self-protective. Instead, they are more likely to experience empathy and to serve by extending a listening ear and a helping hand. The best approach for kids to learn this ability is by watching their parents’ example.

Expect tangible mini acts of service
In public transportation, too often the seats are filled with children, teens, and young adults, while older, even elderly people, are forced to stand. What wonderful lessons can be learned when we expect our older kids to rise and offer their seat to someone else? There are other mini acts of service that they can do, like holding doors open for people or helping someone carry something if they are struggling.

Allow boredom
Too many of us feel compelled to entertain our kids anytime they experience a bit of dullness. Many young children carry instant boredom-prevention devices. Might this practice be contributing to the number of young people who have absolutely no impulse control skills? Perhaps it would be good for kids to be bored occasionally while you shop, while you have a conversation with someone, while you wait in line, or while you spend a quiet weekend at home.

Limit exposure to popular media
Are the relationships portrayed in most television shows, modern movies, and other media, the kinds we want our kids emulating? A steady, unsupervised diet of on-screen narcissism and negativity is certain to make our job of raising selfless kids much harder.

Community service as a privilege, not a punishment
Often “community service” is viewed as something done as punishment. In a Love and Logic home, community service is not punishment. Instead, it’s intended to be an opportunity—a privilege. It should be seen as an opportunity to be part of something important, needed, and noble.

Plenty of time for neurological development
Children tend to be self-centered by nature. Developmentally speaking, the move toward consistently selfless thinking is something that takes well into adolescence or young adulthood. In fact, many older adults struggle with this concept. I struggle with this concept!

Take this time to enjoy the true spirit of the holidays and help your kids to lead truly impactful and fulfilling lives by demonstrating and teaching that it is better to give than receive.


Thanks for reading!

Dr. Charles Fay

The Gift of Limits

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