The holiday season is totally magical, but with all the new toys and gadgets and lavish meals it can be easy for kids to get wrapped up in the wanting part of the season, and miss out on the giving part- and especially the gratitude part.
Teaching kids gratitude is about more than just manners, though. According to research from the Greater Good Science Center, grateful people are more stress-resistant and have a higher sense of self-worth. Who doesn’t want that for their kiddos?!
Teaching your kids gratitude doesn’t have to involve anything extreme like cancelling Christmas or giving away all of their toys. Here are five of our favorite ways to incorporate gratitude into your family’s daily life and remind your kids to be grateful.
1. Model Gratitude in Daily Conversation
It’s as simple as remembering to say “thank you” in your daily life – and making sure you mention it out loud when you feel grateful for someone else’s gift or actions. Even things as simple as talking about gratitude help kids to recognize and remember the feeling.
2. Practice Giving
Bake a batch of cookies with your little ones and then let them choose people they are thankful for to gift them to. It could be a teacher, pediatrician, neighbor or babysitter – the act of giving will make your kid feel good and encourage them to think about those they are grateful for.
3. Insist on Thank You Notes
I know, I know – it’s like pulling teeth (wait, don’t kids like losing teeth?) – but insisting on thank you notes from an early age will instill great habits for when they get older and means more than you probably know to friends and relatives. There’s something about a handwritten thank you note that brings a smile to almost anyone’s face. And it forces your kids to think about the gift they received and what they love most about it.
4. Sometimes, Say No
One of the best ways to teach kids gratitude is to sometimes say no. Especially during the holiday season, it’s easy to get wrapped up in wanting each and every new toy – and as parents – it feels good to be able to give our kids all the things they want and revel in their excitement. But if we always say yes, our kids won’t learn to truly appreciate the things they have. Sometimes, waiting a few days, weeks, months or years to get the things we want the most makes them feel just that much sweeter in the end.
5. Unwrap with Care
Christmas can be incredibly overwhelming for little ones who are unwrapping dozens of new toys. While kids are often prone to opening everything in one big frenzy, it pays to slow down and enforce a “one gift at a time” rule. Watching others open their gifts increases anticipation and excitement, and having time in between presents allows little ones to think about and appreciate the gift they have now, versus wondering what’s inside the next box. Remind kids to say thank you after each gift, and keep a list of what they received so they can write thank you notes later!
Learning gratitude takes time, but I think most of us would agree, it’s #SoWorthIt.
What are some of your holiday family traditions that center around gratitude?