Crucial Skills®

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Framing the Holidays

New research by Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield shows that a few small changes in how parents talk about Christmas makes a huge difference in whether Christmas traditions make kids selfish or generous.

“We wanted to find out whether parents were unwittingly undermining their own goals,” said Maxfield. “Specifically, we wondered if the way parents talk about Christmas has a significant influence on whether kids become self-centered or empathic during the holidays.”

In the study conducted in October, twenty-seven percent of parents said they talk to their children more about giving than getting, yet eighty-six percent want their holiday traditions to support generosity and gratefulness.

So how can parents and families close the gap between what we say and what we do? Joseph Grenny and David Maxfield offer the following six tips:

1. Take children shopping for presents they will give.

2. Expect them to use some of their own money to buy gifts.

3. Involve kids in doing some kind of charitable work to get into the holiday spirit.

4. Help kids write a “gift” list as well as a “wish” list—detailing things they want to make or do for those they love.

5. Collect presents for a “Sub for Santa” or other holiday giving cause.

6. Make a donation of a valued toy or other possession for someone less fortunate.

View the results of our study in the infographic below or download a copy for yourself.


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  1. Does Santa Make Us Selfish? - Press Room

    […] Copies of their book Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change, full survey results, and hi-res infographics are also […]

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