When raising children, we sometimes find ourselves in situations that are undesirable. There are some things that simply cannot be prevented or avoided. Society often throws customs and traditions our way that affect children. Children, themselves, do not always perform as we would like and we are tempted to harshly scold them for poor performance.
When these challenges occur, some parents stress the negative instead of the positive. Some parents spend their time and energy trying to shelter their children from the inevitable. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to be truthful with the children about the negative, but put the major emphasis on the positive aspects of the occasion.
Halloween has a dark origin. It is based on the rituals of the druids who lived long ago. There may be a few people in our country who actually associate the two things, but it is doubtful that the thought ever crosses the mind of most of our children. To most children, it is a time to dress up in a costume, have fun, and get candy. There is nothing wrong with dressing up in a costume that does not reflect the negative aspects of the holiday. In fact, it is good for a child to imagine they are someone or something else. It expands their thinking and understanding of others. Getting candy once a year is not harmful unless permissive parents allow their children to have too much candy at other times.
Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny certainly detract from the importance of Christmas and Easter. They become an even greater distraction if we overemphasize them. If we tell the children that talking about them is a game we play; then, we can move on and emphasize the real truth of the holidays. If we talk about them too much, or if we forbid the children to have anything to do with the custom, their minds become fixated on them and they want to play the game all the more.
When children “mess up” and make mistakes, it is best to acknowledge the mistakes and look for the positive to emphasize. As a teacher, I have heard endless stories about how a child was embarrassed by being scolded for mistakes. Those embarrassing moments are like chains that keep a child from wanting to break loose and try again to succeed. They fear the hurt of failure. On the other hand, when a child is praised for doing something, that is the very thing the child wants to do again in hope of more praise. As the child repeats the action, that child gains more expertise in the task.
Let’s face it: there are some things we will never be able to change. We waste our time and energy in trying to do so. We can, however, emphasize the positive of situations to help a child grow in the truth. There will probably be a Santa, Easter bunny, and witches at Halloween for a long time to come. Our children don’t have to be caught up in the things of society. They can look at such things knowing there is something better. When they make mistakes, they need not fear a harsh scolding, but rather they can progress in the positive aspect of the situation. By accentuating the positive, we eliminate the negative.