I'm a big believer in family traditions. I'm also a big believer in the idea that children get a big kick out of even relatively small gestures, so that it's worth taking the time to jazz things up a bit, in easy ways.
A friend of mine has a great tradition when she and her husband travel away from their children.
Like many people, she brings her kids little presents from trips, but instead of just handing them over upon her return, she makes sure to pick the presents early in the trip, then allows her children to ask for clues. Each child gets one clue per day, and they have tremendous fun coming up with the questions, coordinating with each other about who will ask what, keeping a list of the clues that have been revealed, debating amongst themselves, etc.
She says that the gift itself brings them much less fun than the guessing game.
Research shows that a key to happiness is squeezing out as much happiness as possible from a happy event, and as much as possible, we want to get more happiness bang for the buck by focusing on the four stages of appreciating a happy moment, i.e.,
1. anticipating with pleasure,
2. savoring the moment as we experience it,
3. expressing our happiness to ourselves or others, and
4. reflecting on a happy memory.
The guessing game gives a huge boost to #1, meaning that the same activity has a much greater happiness yield.
Now, I'd never begin this family tradition myself. As an underbuyer, I never bring gifts home to my children after a trip. I wouldn't even do that once, for fear that they'd expect gifts every other time I went away. I don't like to shop, and I wouldn't create a situation where I'd feel pressed to hit the stores.
So I'm trying to figure out a way to apply the same "guessing game" idea to something else that we do.
Have you found any easy ways to make ordinary activities more fun for kids?
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