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The importance of Christmas traditions to kids

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Take time to bond

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, when was the last time you sat down with your child and asked how he or she feels about the holiday? What makes it special for them? What are the habits and traditions that mean the most - and have they happened? Can you make them happen?

Mom Talking to Kids at Christmas

It's so easy to get caught up in the busy-ness and demands on the holiday season. Just as you might need five minutes of downtime (with none in sight, I'm sure), so might your kids need five minutes with you just to talk about all that is happening.

Tradition in a child's eyes

You might be surprised at what means the most to your kids at the holidays. Perhaps you think it's just the gifts on Christmas day, but it may well be much more than that. It might be a particular cookie or an activity that you didn't think much of - but your child thinks of as tradition. It could be a special relative or a food item. You just never know.

Woody, for example, can't get enough of eggnog; not having eggnog in the house during December really upsets him. Alfs is really into outside lights - it's just not the holiday season yet unless we have one of or more of the apple trees in the front yard fully lit. These are things that I could take or leave, but as they are obviously important to the kids, I make them happen.

Exaggerated emotions

Just as we set expectations for the season, so do our kids. If emotions sometimes feel exaggerated for us in these busy days, they are more so for the kids. Highs and lows seem to happen more quickly and more frequently. Sitting down for five minutes to talk about what is or is not happening during this intense season can help ward off the more extreme of the emotions. And recognizing the source of the exaggerated emotions also can help you manage your emotional response - so your emotions don't get to exaggerated either.

It's not too late

Finding time - or making time - to spend five quiet minutes to regroup with your kids can be hard right now, but it is so, so worth it. And it's never too late to make that connection! Even if it is too late to get the ingredients for a specific cookie, knowing about that expectation by and importance to your child can help you under sand priorities going forward. Maybe you can make the cookies a day late - and make a note to make sure they get made earlier next year.

Spending just a few minutes talking, regrouping, reassuring and planning is really making sure you all get a bit of what you need for now - and later.

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