‘Tis the season of giving … and getting. We all want our children to say thank you for the gifts they receive. But a thank you doesn’t necessarily mean they are truly grateful. I sat with the hosts of Fox6 Real Milwaukee to discuss cultivating an attitude of gratitude in our children. Click the picture below to watch the short segment, then read on for a few more tips I wasn’t able to fit into our conversation (so much to say; so little time!).
As is typical of me, I planned to say more than for which I was allotted time. Here are a few more holiday-specific strategies for teaching gratitude:
- Give family experiences vs. a slew of gifts. Gifts like tickets to a baseball game for the whole family or an annual zoo pass emphasize relationships over material things. You might consider skipping the toys all together and using your Christmas budget to gift your family a larger vacation (Disney anyone?) — talk about an experience to remember!
- Emphasize holiday traditions over presents. This is another strategy that helps shift the focus from getting to connecting with friends and family.
- After the gifts have been opened, encourage your kids to donate a gently-used older toy or item for every new gift they received. As you are helping them choose what to donate, talk about how their new owners will enjoy them and how it feels to give to others.
And I highly recommend practicing demonstrating gratitude in the moment before the big day. Literally have your children role play opening a gift while smiling, showing excitement and saying thank you — even for gifts they are less than thrilled with. This exercise helps them focus on the thought behind the gifts while saving face in the process.
Remember, gratitude can be taught and practiced all year long, and its benefits run deep. I hope you have a wonderful holiday, filled with the love and laughter of those you hold dear. And thank you for reading my blog, watching my TV segments and walking along side me on this parenting journey.