The holidays are full of opportunities for fostering life skills and positive values among our children. And the holiday landscape is especially helpful for fostering entrepreneurial skills and values, including things like:
- Creating a vision and executing against it
- Team building
This is especially important and especially true in this unique holiday time had in this uncertain and troubling period of the COVID-19 pandemic. As a parent, using the holidays to encourage skill development is a great way to make the season even more fun and fulfilling. Here’s how.
Help Them Create a Vision for the Holidays
As the holidays approach, media and your own family traditions will naturally colonize your children’s minds with a pre-determined view of the holiday experience. Left unchecked, our children are simply along for the ride. They ask what the ads tell them to ask for. They passively participate in the traditions you've always implemented, whether enjoyable or not.
This is a missed opportunity. Instead of letting our kids adopt the practices they’re shown, we can sit them down and ask them to outline how they would like to spend the holidays.
The once-in-century experience of this year’s pandemic can act as a perfect catalyst.
Remind them of the values you might cherish like spending time with family, giving back to the community or maybe remembering religious principles. If you are reading this post, your family is likely well off compared to the so many who find themselves in precarious situations. You children and their broader community would do well for your children to know this. If you happen to be in more troubling circumstances, the focus on core values will still act as a compass for steering through.
Once you remind your children of your core values, ask them to articulate their own vision on how to celebrate around these values. Like all good visions, ask them to start with the big picture and articulate things in a general way. Who do they want to spend time with? How would they like to feel during and after the holidays?
And, then, ask them to make their vision specific. Don’t tell them how big a tree to pick, for example. Instead, ask them how big they think it should be and why. Ask them where the tree should go. How many gifts would they like to give and receive? Do they want to set a budget?
Encourage Team Building
Now that your children have helped set the vision, ask them to work together to execute. Your children may be clamoring for a distraction from one-another if they have been quarantined together this year. But there is nothing like a common project to help them foster more harmonious interactions.
There is also no reason that the adults need to put up all of the decorations, cook all of the food, shop or make all of the gifts, organize the volunteer outings. Ask your kids to form teams with themselves, their friends and/ or their extended family. Perhaps they can at least make Christmas breakfast. Or work together to make gifts for Mom & Dad or take charge of putting up some set of the decorations.
Given the focus on extended families staying apart, as them to think up home-made gifts that can be shared online. These can be things like a short play they write or piece of music they learn and perform or a photo college of past family gatherings.
This gives them a chance to learn how to work together, appreciate the work involved in making the holidays happen, and the pride of ownership in playing a role in the festivities.
Foster Grit and a Positive Attitude
There are terrific opportunities during the holidays to foster the grit required to realize an entrepreneurial vision.
Most social service organizations and non-profits organizations run fundraisers during the holidays that require volunteers. My favorite for kids are the ones driven around door-to-door offerings like the Boy Scouts selling their Christmas wreaths.
Such door-to-door sales and advocacy, especially during the holidays, is tremendously positive training. Here’s why:
- It provides camaraderie
- It teaches them how to appeal to different kinds of neighbors and figure out the hook that will connect them to the specific cause, and this develops insight and social intelligence
- It helps them learn to overcome rejection and positively focus on the one door that says "yes" out of many that say “no.”
All of this is also a special way to connect with people outside your close social circle during the holidays. As you walk neighborhoods to raise money for that holiday cause, you’ll see a window into the many different ways that people celebrate in their respective homes.
These door-to-door activities will likely be off limits this year, so finding those one-on-one ways to connect at a distance can foster more discipline:
- Perhaps have them sign up for time to call or video chat with an elderly person at a hospice or retirement home
- Have them or participate in an online fundraiser and track progress with supportive relatives
- Have them write pre-holiday thank you notes that touch on how they appreciate broader, ongoing support from a teacher, a relative or friend instead of a thank you for a physical gift
These kinds of activities reinforce the importance of connecting with their broader community, even during challenging times.
Focus on Maximizing Joy
Overall, the holidays are full of joy. But they also can be a time of extra stress, as families often succumb to external social pressure on how the holidays should be spent and how we should all feel during this period.
Parents can help maximize their family's joy by using this landscape to foster entrepreneurship in their children, teaching them to focus on the internal voices that foster their own vision, team building and grit and helping them to cast aside those external voices that might wire-trip their own natural happiness.
By using this unusual pandemic time of social isolation as a catalyst for this approach to the holidays, you and your family may look back on this time as a positive departure from past holiday habits. You may come to remember holiday 2020 as a time when you were able to bring your immediate family closer together through ongoing traditions that help you better connect with the joy of supporting your extended family and broader community.
About the Author: Eric Taussig is Prialto's founder/ CEO. He speaks and writes about the future of work, global workforce, and employee happiness issues. His ideas have been featured on National Public Radio and in places like Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine and Inc. Magazine.