Inside: Worried the holiday frenzy is spoiling your kids? These 5 easy tips for teaching gratitude during the holidays will help you un-spoil your kids!
The holiday season is full of fun and magic, especially for your kids. But it’s also a time when kids can get caught up in the season of gimme, gimme, gimme!
When your Uncle Tom and Aunt Marie come into town and bring presents for your kids, and they’re asked what they want for Christmas from their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and teachers, it naturally sends kids the signal that they’re supposed to get presents.
I don’t think gifts themselves are the issue, I still love to get some gifts for my kids.
But it’s when your kids stop being grateful and start feeling entitled that it becomes an issue.
So how do you let them keep the spirit and the magic of the holiday season, and ensure your kids aren’t becoming entitled?
Teach them to appreciate what they already have. Teach them that giving is more important than receiving. Teach them to value experiences with their family. Teach them to be gracious when they’re given something.
In other words, teach them to be grateful!
5 easy tips for teaching gratitude during the holidays
Talk to them about manners
The most important lesson I learned about manners, actually happened to someone else.
A family member of mine, (who was 6 or 7) was opening gifts in front of our family. She was tearing through the gifts with a frenzy. When she found toys beneath the wrapping paper and boxes she would get a huge smile on her face.
Then one of the gifts she ripped open was a box of crayons.
Her smile immediately became a frown, (like frowned so big it was cartoonish) and she gave the biggest stank face, which very clearly told everyone in the room she did not want those crayons.
Everyone snickered since she was only a kid, but I’ll never forget my mom leaning over to me whispering, don’t you ever make a face like that when you open gifts from people. You always say thank you and smile when someone gives you a gift.
That’s been seared in my mind ever since then, (I was also 6 or 7 at the time).
It’s an important lesson about manners and gratitude that I’m glad I learned and it’s one I share with my own kids.
Saying thank you despite what they got is just good manners, but kids don’t automatically know this.
So you can role-play with them before the holidays so they know what to say or do when they’re given gifts.
For example you can tell them, “be sure you smile and say thank you because that person was kind enough to think of you and buy you something. It doesn’t matter what it is, just smile and say thank you. If you don’t like it, we can return it to the store later”.
Get them involved with donating
Have them go through old toys and pick out ones to donate. Talk to them about kids who aren’t as fortunate as them and don’t have any toys to play with. (If your kids are young it’s a difficult concept for them to understand so keep it simple).
Discuss with them the importance of being grateful for what they do have.
Also remind them how happy they are when they open a new gift. Then explain how, through their act of donation, they can give that happiness to another child.
Ask for the gift of experience
It’s been my observation that if you tell people not to get your kids anything, people will still get them stuff. Typically that stuff is toys they’ll play with for a day or clothes they’ll never wear.
So to avoid your kids getting more stuff they don’t need, and putting more of the focus on being grateful for the people in their lives, ask for experiences.
Some experiences could be:
- Coming over and cooking a meal and a dessert with your child.
- Taking them to see a movie
- Going to a museum with your child
- Taking them to a children’s library.
- Going to the zoo
- Going to the park
- And much more!
Give gifts that keep on giving
If you feel inclined to get your kids an actual gift for the holidays, get them books. Every birthday or holiday that I give my kids gift, they get at least one book!
Books are basically an experience and they’re a gift that keeps on giving because your child is learning critical literacy skills when you read to them or when they read by themselves.
They’re also getting to spend more time with you while you read them stories, and they get to use their imagination while you read.
You can choose any number of books to fit your child’s life and interests, (for example, christmas books for kids, books for girls with curly hair, books that teach kids about emotions, diverse books for boys, or books that feature biracial children).
Spend more time with your kids
Do more things with your kids, because absolutely nothing is better for your kids than to spend time with you, (not to mention it’s great for you too!).
They’ll look forward to the time your family spends together, the experiences you guys have, and the memories you create.
To cement what those experiences and memories mean to you and your family, you can share them with each other.
During dinner or at bedtime you can share what you were most grateful for that day and ask what they were most grateful for. They’ll feel loved and special to hear how much you enjoyed spending time with them and it models for them the time you spend together is what’s most important.
Check out this post for fun winter activities you can do with your kids.
Teaching gratitude during the holidays can actually be pretty simple. Focus on “less is more” by adopting an experience mindset. Help your kids focus on the experiences they have and who they’re sharing them with instead of a gazillion toys. Have them help sort through their old stuff and talk to them about why donating is so important. Lastly, spend more time with them and share with them what that time means to you to ensure it leaves a lasting impact on your kids.