You are invited to your very own CHILD CENTERED Christmas

December 2017

Dear Mom & Dad,

Here’s my letter about how I’m feeling right now about Christmas.

You keep saying “Be good”, or “You have to be good or else……or else Santa won’t come”

When you are feeling cross, under pressure you then SAY…… “Santa is watching you, his elves are, he’s high powered binoculars!” I heard there are Santa cams too…

Yikes so I’m being watched, but I can’t see anyone….

You are so busy now, shopping, writing lists, on your phone, cleaning, wrapping gifts, and we are running around all the time…..

It’s dark outside, it’s wintertime, I am tired from school and Mondays are just so hard now to get up for school. 

And in my school, teacher is telling us to learn our lines, we are practicing and practicing and practicing.  It’s hard to do that Mom/Dad.  Three in my class were crying because they didn’t know the words of a Christmas song…Teacher tells us “No homework if you’re good…We get to watch movies if we’re good…. and then the worst of all is that teacher said there’s a camera in the school, the principal can see who’s bold”….There is that word again GOOD….

I had a nightmare about the principal and my tummy is feeling funny now when I think of school tomorrow…

So many feelings right now, mixed up, jumbled up, you are soooooo busy, I want to be next to you to let you know that……… to get a hug, to look in your eyes, to just slow down MOM AND DAD.

OK! I AM FEELING tired, afraid of people watching me with binoculars and webcams, adults are ALL just soooooooooooo bossy right now (controlling).  I feel threatened, excited and worried for Christmas morning and just a little lonely as you are sooo……busy.

From: GUESS who? Your darling??? xxxxxx  

P.S. PLEASE READ THIS – Eithne is a child centered play therapist (woo hoo play) and she works with boys and girls and their feelings and worries…

From today there’s a SPECIAL OFFER!  Do you want to move from thinking about Christmas for your child to how your child is FEELING about Christmas? Terms and conditions apply! Mom/Dad from now until Christmas Eve!!!.

T&C’s from now to Christmas Eve…………..

  • Take a few minutes to think about how your child is FEELING right now about Christmas
  • Name YOUR Child’s FEELINGS
  • STOP threatening that Santa is watching, might come , be brave and say “Santa IS coming”


  • Double check you do have enough batteries for toys your child asked Santa for!
  • Have a think about what time your family is getting up on Christmas morning… is 3am ok or 6am acceptable. Show your young child the time on the clock “When the big hand is at 12 and the little hand is at 6, then it’s time to go open our gifts AND give our gifts”. (Make alternate arrangement if digital clock!)
  • The word CHRISTMAS has its origin in the birth of a baby, Baby Jesus. Symbolism of light is present as in many faith systems and cultures. Have you explained the tradition of St. Nicholas to your child?
  • Let your child know the plan for Christmas Day. Waking up, opening gifts, giving gifts, eating breakfast, going to Church, visiting Granny and then home for Christmas Dinner.  (Be sure to lay out the clothes your young child is wearing or for older have reminded your child and checked the clothes are clean and ready for wear!)
  • Good idea to do this for each day of Christmas. Some children especially need to know the plan of each day. You know if that’s your child!
  • Include having a busy day followed by a lazy hazy day…ie slowing down, staying at home, connecting, spending time in the company of your child in a child centered way
  • Child Centered Christmas Day

Name your children’s emotions if you can:

“You’re delighted with………….”

“You’re happy with…………….”

“You seem a little disappointed with …….”

“You’re sad you didn’t get ……”

“You are feeling proud of how you spent time carolling and raising money for other people…”

Mom/Dad when you speak like this and name my emotions I feel listened too, you are understanding me, you get me Mom/Dad.  Eithne says you are “Emotionally attuned” to and with me!!!!

Even when my emotions are negative you are able to keep me safe (emotionally and physically) and you aren’t afraid of my big negative emotions such as anger, frustration and feeling anxious…

Be ready to play with your child, sit on the floor:

If you have two or three children be mindful of the time you are playing with each of your children.  Be aware that you will need to monitor time you are playing with your child.  “Mollaí, I am playing with Oisín, with his lego, for 15 minutes, after that I am playing with you” If Mollaí is disappointed that she’s to wait name this. “Mollaí it’s hard to wait, I understand, you can choose to either colour on the table while you are waiting for me to play with you or you and Sorcha could play a board game for 15 minutes, while you are waiting for me, it’s your choice”

Mom/Dad, I don’t feel alone when you keep playing with my other two siblings especially because you all like lego and are master builders of lego because …..

I love, love, love when you keep your promise .  You make me feel valued and respected.  I trust that you are going to keep your promise, (if you can’t such as emergency occurs that is ok, you can be repair later).

It feels hard to wait sometimes, sometimes its’ easier to wait and other times well… I need you to really connect, empathise with me and then I am able to wait.

 Leaving for Christmas Service:

Give your child a countdown verbally that you are leaving.   Wait for your child to hear you after you call their name. “Clíodhna you have 5 more minutes playing, then we are eating dinner.  I will tell you when you have a minute left.  Then we are going to put away your toys together”

After 4 minutes then you remind “Clíodhna, you have a minute left playing”.  When the minute is up, let her know it’s time to stop playing and together tidy away the game or if there are lots of pieces put it to a safe place until after dinner.  Then Clíodhna has a choice to play with it again or not.

Mom/Dad, I feel treated with respect here Mom/Dad, like I am a little person and I am.

I like when you say my name and then WAIT.  I need time to hear what you are asking me to do, then stop what I am doing and do it.

It’s hard to stop something straight way, you’d find that hard too when you are on your phone or watching a movie.

I love when you give me a choice.  I feel INDEPENDENT!!

I feel you trust and believe in me.

AND…’s no big deal when I choose not to play with it after dinner  after all you said “It’s my choice”

Mom/Dad, think about this iceberg when I am fighting/having meltdowns/temper tantrums or whatever you want to call them.

Use empathy rather than sympathy when you are relating to me. I especially need this when I feel big negative emotions such as anger, feeling frustrated and feeling and anxious. My behaviors are the part of the iceberg you can see, how I am feeling is in the water.

  1. Please separate my misbehaviours from me.
  2. I’m just learning to make safe and respectful choices.
  3. Let’s go outside in nature, it centres and calms me… it does for you too
  4. Turn off your mobile phone this Christmas and let’s sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus