Do the weeks leading up to Christmas seem like a nightmare? During the Christmas season your days may be filled with comments like: “I need an iPad for Christmas,” “I want a Smartphone, everyone else has one,” or “If I don’t get me an Xbox One, I’m never talking to you again.” Children are psychologically wired to want what they want, when they want it. Children have a hard time understanding the concept of money, especially when society tells them a mysterious man named Santa is bringing them the gifts. Since kids are mostly unaware that your working hard to earn money to buy them presents, they think they can ask for and have as much as they want. Children can easily develop a sense of entitlement and become materialistic in today’s world. Many times, as parents, you also want the newest gadgets and best clothes, and enjoy providing your children with the things they want. However, we all get busy and forget to teach gratitude in the midst of the giving. Children should learn that they need to earn the things they want and to also be thankful for the gifts they are given. Here are some tips on teaching gratitude during the holiday season:
1. Give fewer gifts: Set a limit for yourself and your family. When children are given lots of presents on Christmas morning, it is hard for them to appreciate each gift and trains them to never be satisfied.
2. Write thank-you notes: Writing thank-you notes is a lost art. A handwritten note is very thoughtful, and teaches children to take the time to think about the gift they received and put real effort into thanking the gift-giver. Make this into an art project and help your child make the thank-you note and write a personal message inside.
3. Encourage random acts of kindness: If we help children learn to focus on others rather than themselves, it will reduce their level of entitlement. Help an elderly neighbor with their lawn, bake cookies for a friend or clean a relative’s house without a material incentive. You could also organize a toy donation in your household. Make it a Christmas tradition for your children to donate toys they no longer play with to those less fortunate. The reward will be the satisfaction of helping others in need.
4. Write a letter of gratitude: Christmas morning can be a blur. Children furiously open all their presents, barely stopping to appreciate them and forgetting how lucky they are to have presents under the tree. Have your children write a letter about what they are thankful for this holiday season and read it together as a family before opening presents. This can shift the mood of Christmas morning to thankfulness!
by Afton Murphy