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Joy not Judgement

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The holidays can sometimes be confusing for little ones. Full of glitter, lists of presents and that darn elf always watching! And (hopefully) giving. There are angel trees, mitten drives and backpack programs in desperate need. Not to mention the many Salvation Army bell ringers. It is always a good idea to get your children involved in giving. However, it is extremely important to:

give with joy not judgement. 

It's hard to explain to little ones why some children do not have mittens--or--will not get presents. Their minds go to the naughty and nice list. Let's just do away with that list, OK? Think of the child in preschool or elementary who did not get the desire of their heart last year but instead got much needed socks or second hand shoes. Shame is an awful burden to place on a child who doesn't feel "nice enough" despite their best efforts. 

When helping children understand the many needs in the world, please also teach them that though a family may not have money, or enough food or housing, they can still have love, gratitude and joy. It's a delicate balance. Many nights I would climb in bed with a sobbing child who felt guilty because of what she had and others did not. We decided to replace the word "guilt" with "joy". We are joyful for what we have and in that joy we freely share with others. They freely share their joy with us; a smile, a thank you, a silent prayer of gratitude. 

I too have an Elf on the Shelf, her name is Joy. When I'm feeling overwhelmed, she reminds me to breathe. When I feel sadness for all the injustices of the world, she reminds me to "be the change I want to see". When I'm less than perfect, she reminds me I can do better. Her only job is to spread kindness. No judgement. No recording my worst moments.

No list. 

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