The holidays are a special time. We look towards our family and friends for comfort, good times and to create lasting memories that we’ll treasure forever…well, some of them we’ll treasure forever. When your two year old opens a card and forgets to say “thank you” or tosses it aside to open the next one, or yells “PRESENTS!!!”, we all cringe a little inside. Children are not born grateful. It is something that needs to be taught…and taught, and taught. After years of drilling my kids at birthdays and Christmas, they FINALLY look at the card before frantically ripping open the gift. I get it-they’re KIDS…but that doesn’t mean that have to be rude.
They can pause, appreciate the gift that was given (even if it’s socks and underwear), thank the person that gave it to them, and then put it aside…don’t you think?
We learned the hard way (like most parents). After many Christmas breakdowns, we now open our presents over the course of the day. We’ll open a few, wait for the grandparents to arrive, open a few more, have breakfast, do it again and then save some for the afternoon or evening-if there are any left. We take our time and we’ve learned when the kids are getting overwhelmed, to slow things down.
What does being grateful mean, anyway? Well, according to the dictionary, it means: “warmly or deeply appreciative of kindness or benefits received; thankful.”
Teaching an emotion to children is not an easy task, but it’s an important one and will shape who they become as adults, no-as HUMAN BEINGS. Too many people are ungrateful these days and using the holidays as a tool for learning may sound very clinical but done wisely, can be so incredibly beneficial to your children and the people who surround them. The first and most important way to teach our children is to be an example. When we open our gifts, we should appreciate them (even if the people aren’t there…especially if the people aren’t there!). An example: “Oh-a bird’s nest! How…thoughtful…of Aunt Matilda. She certainly knows how to create art out of…nature. What a surprising and thoughtful gift” instead of “A bird’s nest? Well this is certainly crap. Nope, it’s actually garbage! Garbage that she glued back together and put in a bag. Ewww.” See the difference? Even if it’s funny, your children are watching! They’re ALWAYS watching. They’re sort of like a smaller, creepier version of Santa.
Practice gratitude now, and it will slowly permeate the rest of your life. You and your kids will start to see things and the world differently. Have a grateful holiday and a gratified New Year. We are certainly going to try our best.
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