Parents are being urged to think twice about what to put under the Christmas tree and to focus on spending more time than money as part of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program’s Ultimate Christmas Challenge.
“As Christmas draws nearer, a lot of parents start to panic shop, fearing they don’t have enough or can’t afford to give their kids enough,” says Triple P founder Professor Matt Sanders, who is also Director of Parenting and Family Support Centre at The University of Queensland.
He says the Ultimate Christmas Challenge is for parents to use the festive season to really connect with their kids.
“[Panic buying] can be a hard pattern to break, especially if your family is used to having jam-packed stockings on Christmas morning with presents spilling out from under the tree,” he says.
“But I think deep down, we all know that the specialness of Christmas and the holidays is all about connection with family and friends, and slowing life down to enjoy each other’s company.”
One couple who’ve embraced a ‘connected’ approach to parenting are Michael and Isabella Carter, from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. Along with their 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter, they’re making an effort to simplify and connect with one another more this year.
“We’re definitely up for the Triple P challenge this year and will be taking our traditional Christmas camping holiday where we go for lots of bush and beach walks, swim, play beach cricket and play board games together,” Isabella says.
“Presents do feature in our Christmas as our kids are kids and want some bells and whistles on Christmas Day, but we try to stick to gifts that promote creativity or togetherness,” she says.
Professor Sanders said the best types of presents to give children are ones that can be enjoyed together such as sports equipment, board games, or holidays or events.
“Whatever the age of your child or teen, gifts that encourage interaction between parents and children help strengthen relationships and make family life more fun, which is really important to a child’s long term emotional and social wellbeing,” he said.
- Take an evening stroll around nearby streets to look at Christmas lights
- Go to see a Christmas movie or attend a Christmas Carols event together
- Sit down with your kids and write Christmas cards/emails for special friends and relatives
You can also enjoy the experience of making gifts or seasonal treats together, says Professor Sanders.
Isabella Carter says she and her kids bake gingerbread biscuits and present them in a re-usable container or bowl: “It’s a fun activity to be in the kitchen together with the Christmas Carols on, and the kids’ smiles say it all when they hand out their home-made gifts.”
Families who would like parenting support over the Christmas/New Year period, when many Triple P providers will be taking a well-earned break, can do Triple P Online or Teen Triple P Online, both of which are free in Queensland.