\While Australians face a cost-of-living crisis, Triple P offers some simple ways for parents to manage their children’s expectations without worrying them about family finances.
“The festive season is a joyous time of year to spend with family and friends – but this year could be a real challenge for many parents who are watching their Christmas spend closely. Not being able to afford everything can be stressful at the best of times, but this year we’ve got rising bills and food costs to contend with. There are simple, effective ways of communicating this with children without causing them concern,” said Carol Markie-Dadds, Triple P International Country Director.
Evidence-based, positive programs like Triple P can offer new strategies to maintain a happy household over the festive season.
Look After Yourself First
It might sound odd, but caring for your own needs first and taking the time to recharge your battery by doing something healthy and nurturing can make it easier to remain calm and positive during stressful times. This in turn helps kids cope with uncertainty and difficult situations. Asking for help can be daunting, but oftentimes reaching out for a little assistance from your partner, friends, family, or health professional makes a big difference in coping with life’s challenges.
Children are more aware than you may think and often pick up on feelings of stress or anxiety. They take their cues from parents, so having proactive, honest, and positive conversations that are sensitive to their needs, can help them build resilience and understand why all families, not just your own, are paying more attention to their finances this year. Support children’s wellbeing by using positive language that emphasises the great things that the season holds instead of lingering on the negatives. Parents and carers can talk about how ‘excited’ they are for the holidays, the ‘fun’ games and experiences they have planned, and how much they’re looking forward to spending quality family time together.
Less can indeed be more, so ask children to list one or two presents that would be special on top of their ‘must have’ wishes – and within a set price range! This helps manage expectations and makes it more likely the presents will be appreciated and used. This reinforces a message about quality, not quantity which can be a valuable life lesson. There are often alternative versions of big-ticket items which cost a little less or look out for sales and vouchers to take some pressure off. This is also a great opportunity to talk to children and young people about the value of money, and healthy saving habits like putting money aside for bigger items – it’s never too early for children to start saving pocket money to build towards a treat.
Make it a Challenge
Handmade or upcycled gifts are not only a low-cost way to buy for the wider family but are also a great way to involve children by turning it into a creative activity. Focusing on the effort and thought your child puts into the gifts will truly be appreciated by the recipient and gives them a sense of what the spirit of giving means.
Start a Tradition
The best traditions are free or low cost such as driving by some local homes famous for their Christmas lights or taking the kids carolling. Children can have lots of fun with their family traditions as well as add new ones! Make a day of tree decorating, have a festive baking session, and be sure to share the results with friends and family.
Giving the gift of your time will show your kids that spending time with family and loved ones is the most important part of the festive season – you’ll reap the benefits in years to come. And best of all, it’s free!
Delivery of the Triple P – Positive Parenting Program to parents and carers of children in Australia is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care under the Parenting Education and Support Program.
Parents and carers can access free, easy-to-use, online parenting support 24/7 at www.triplep-parenting.net.au