I really wish everyone wellbeing this time of year, especially busy Mums, Dads and Carers. Just when our bodies and brains need some rest and recharge with the dark nights and short days, life can go into overdrive. It’s not so many generations ago that people went to bed much earlier at this time of year – I actually know someone who still goes to bed at dusk and gets up at dawn.
I know what it’s like when there isn’t the extended family to help around this time of year, and the special tasks as well as the chores take up so much time that you can’t really enjoy them. Kids are exhausted as the end of term approaches, and over-excited or anxious about the Christmas ‘fun’.
When my son was little, the local sports centre held a trampolining day, all day, on Christmas Eve. It gave me time to catch up, and for him to have a great time using up his energy. I so appreciated that day.
So I can fully understand people getting to the end of their tethers over the next few weeks.
And that it is very tempting to use Father Christmas to get kids to behave better, co-operate, clear up and generally be easier.
But please don’t pass the buck to Father Christmas, or use the fact that kids need to be good for him to bring their presents.
The main reason is that you want your kid to trust you, first and foremost - more than anyone else in the world. If suddenly Father Christmas has more power than you, this is taking away your kid’s security. Even if they seem to be enjoying this time waiting for Father Christmas, the threat that he might not bring presents is too much for the most outwardly or apparently resilient and strong child.
We want to hugely lessen threat, control and manipulation to kids, because it is damaging for their mental wellbeing. Also if we use Father Christmas as a threat, or to control a situation, this is actually role modelling to kids that threat and control are the best way to sort out life. Threat and control never sort out life, either for the person carrying them out, or on the receiving end.
If your kid isn’t behaving the way you want, co-operating or being easy, their behaviour, from mildly out of sorts to extremely challenging, is their way of communicating to you, and others, that they are not feeling all right on the inside.
Father Christmas may bring a lot of magic, but he can’t change kids on the inside. No present can enable a child to feel happy in the long term – presents just distract from inner angst for a short period of time. So now is a good time to start preparing your kid for when the present receiving time is over! Having fun in the here and now!
Inner wellbeing, resilience, and being able to get back to feeling OK whatever happens, is something that we all need to build in all our kids today, and every day.
You may be thinking that you were told to be good for Father Christmas as a child, and it didn’t do you any harm. That his jolly ’Have you been good?’ and big smile might even have been a pleasure for you to hear.
But kids are different nowadays. Many aren’t ‘good’. They have very poor self worth, are more anxious than previous generations, or are hugely more challenging. Many are born with brains that work in unusual ways, struggling with academic tasks, yet hyper aware and sensitive, even gifted, in other ways.
Some are not going to follow on in family footsteps, and get by in life no matter what.
Many need our understanding, compassion and support just to survive, to cope with everyday life. Most need things to be different to thrive and succeed.
So over the coming weeks, take a moment to restore and recharge yourself, whenever you can. Maybe in the New Year, you would like to explore life, and the Feel-Good Factor for your family. So by next Christmas you don’t need Father Christmas to bring a moment’s peace and quiet into your household –it’s an established way of life!
This might sound like Father Christmas jargon or wishful thinking, but the most up-to-date neuroscience is proving what works for kids and families, for peace, effective communication and happiness.
May Father Christmas, or however you celebrate bringing Light into the darkest days, give you and your family fun, peace, joy, happiness and love.
Do visit my website, www.felicityevans.co.uk , spread the word, and let’s make this the fashion, a reality for as many families and kids as possible in 2017.
‘The Book for 21st Century Mums and Dads’ will be out in March.