Holiday attitudes: Raising grateful kids
Teaching gratitude to children takes time and a great deal of patience. We as parents always hope that our kids will like and appreciate every gift they receive. This ideal is rarely lived out to its fullest. Let’s be honest: kids are truthful more than tactful. Here are 8 ways to teach gratitude in your home.
Get a gift; give a gift. Lists get endlessly long during the holidays. The magic of Christmas often focuses on “I want”. Have your child make a list of the gifts they want. In the next column, list an item they are planning to give away to charity. Every item desired should match up with an item to give away.
Involve them in selecting gifts. Many gifts are given with a personal thought in mind. The pleasure of seeing someone truly love the gift you picked out brings a smile to our face. Make a list of those people you plan to give a gift. Ask your kids to write down suggestions for each person. Then go shopping together for those specific ideas. Wrap them together and celebrate the joy of gift giving.
Prep your kids before walking in the door. We’ve all seen it: the unwanted gift is opened and your child exclaims, “but I wanted a Barbie!” Ward off those reactions by talking through polite responses prior to being at an event or someone’s house. Kids learn the art of grace and parents learn the true meaning of patience…
Turn a negative into a positive. It is tough to know how to respond when you receive a gift you already have. The ultimate remark: “Cool – it’s a favorite of mine!” All is well.
Be firm in action. November and December are prime shopping months. We spend more money, stretch our days and become exhausted. Yet, we always need to make ‘just one more trip’ to the grocery store, drug store, or Target. Discuss the rules before walking into the store. Will your child be allowed to get anything? What behavior do you expect? Make shopping an adventure for what you need, not for what your kid wants. Keep them engaged by searching out the items on your list. Most importantly, be firm. If you set a rule before walking in the door, that rule should be followed consistently.
Model gratefulness. Have you ever caught your kids (or yourself) with a look of disappointment on your face? We all hope to love the gifts we’re given, but let’s face it, it doesn’t always happen. Hold your verbal AND nonverbal remarks. Express a gracious thank you and let your kids see your appreciation for the thought put into the gift.
Donate time, gifts, food, and clothing. There is no better way to teach gratitude than to give. Give your time, talent, food, material items, and money to those in need. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, elderly community, or hospital. Share the experience of making a difference with your entire family.
Gratitude is learned from the many experiences in our lives. During the holidays, be sure to stop and enjoy those most precious to you. When it comes to giving gifts, guide good choices with the most important rule of the season: it’s the thought that counts.
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