Today started very unlike my average Tuesday because I was on the local Fox26 Houston morning news! I’ve joined these newscasters before as part of a panel and I always love our discussions, but this time it was just me! Little Ol’ Me! (Or actually it’s winter break so let’s eat all the cinnamon rolls version of me). Here is the video of my morning segment if you’d like to see it. I cringe a little seeing myself on screen, but I love doing it all the same, especially when talking about something so near and dear to my heart – – – gratitude. I shared tips for helping children learn gift etiquette, a very timely topic given the holiday season that is upon us. They say it’s better to give then receive, but what if your child’s response to a gift isn’t charming? Ward off holiday meltdowns and lay the groundwork for a lifetime gratitude practice (and good manners!) with these five tips.
1. Set the stage for success.
The holiday season is a frenzy of excitement and overstimulation from candy and parties. Keep in mind that kids are just people, too, but with less impulse control. If we feel frazzled from the holidays, you can bet they do, too. Let’s set the kids up for success and talk about how important it is to be gracious and demonstrate gratitude when we are opening gifts. Talking with your children ahead of time will help to set the stage. Let them know they will be attending a party where they’ll be given gifts, and it’s important to use our very best manners. We don’t want our children to appear ungracious or <<eek>> even spoiled, and really, neither do they want to feel that way. Try to open gifts when they are at their best, especially if in a group setting. Have they had too much candy? Is it way past their bedtime? If so, it may be a good idea to save the gifts for another time or choose only one to open.
2. Say “Thank You” before opening
This is a great tip for everyone: before you even open a gift, first look the gift giver in the eyes and say thank you. If there is a card, be sure to open and read the card first. This is a point we are working hard on in our home. A pretty wrapped gift is almost irresistible to little kids, but this brief pause to express gratitude is important.
3. Say (at least!) one positive comment about the gift
After opening the gift, the first thing you say should be something positive. This is especially important if the gift isn’t what the child was hoping for, or it’s something they already have. It’s a great life lesson to know that we can always find at least one positive thing to say about everything. The most important thing to remember is to be gracious to the person who spent their time picking this out for you. *That* is the true gift – that someone thinks of us enough to spend their time and money to treat us. Here are some hints for saying something positive: Is it your favorite color? Does it look yummy?
4. Send thank you notes
Send a thank you note in a timely fashion and specifically mention the gift. Personalized stationary for kids is a very cute way to get them involved, as are handwritten cards. With technology it is also fun to Facetime while opening a gift sent from an out of state relative or send a thank-you video, but this should not be in lieu of the handwritten note.
5. Remember to model these behaviors all year long
This may be the most important point on this list, and certainly resonates the most with me as a parent. Kids learn most from our example, so it’s critical as parents that we demonstrate graciousness and gratitude all year long. Say thank you to your server when meals served to you, when your mail carrier hands you a package, to our teachers and librarians who help us out during the day at school. Modeling and encouraging these behaviors teaches children a “gratitude attitude” from an early age. Not only does it feel good, but the studies are clear – – – grateful people are happier people. Count your blessings, folks, because they are many.
Anything you’d add to the list?
Author: Candace Thomas