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Teaching Children Gratitude During the Holidays

December 8th, 2016     By Boys Town Contributor

Family, Parent-Child Relationships, Parenting Skills

An arms race is going on right under our noses. It’s a race for toys, conducted by our nation’s children, that reaches fever pitch during the holidays. Of course, not every family can afford to buy the latest pricy video game console or wallet-busting doll. Thus, there is always the risk of one child boasting about his/her Christmas presents, causing another child to become envious or otherwise unhappy.

Avarice and envy are natural emotions that we learn to suppress over time. For children, however, these emotions run close to the surface — especially during the holiday season, when consumerism is king. Parents can work to combat this by teaching children to be thankful for what they have, to be mindful that others may not have as much as they do, and that others may in fact have more.

‘Things’ Aren’t Always the Best Thing

To help your children put things into perspective, you can show them that certain activities can make them just as happy as receiving gifts:

  • Reward your child with time and attention. Attention and time spent with Mom and Dad are what young children crave most, so, rather than spending time buying and wrapping up extra toys, read your child an extra story at bedtime, play a board game together or invite a friend to come over to play.
  • If you volunteer with an organization, you could use this time of year to show your child that they may have more to be grateful for than they realize. Ask your child to volunteer with you. It is easier for children to put things in perspective when they can participate in giving back.

Make Memories That Last a Lifetime

Explain to children that physical gifts can be fleeting, but happy memories can last a lifetime. Here are a few simple suggestions to make lasting memories with your child:

  • Memory Mosaics: Create a gallery of memories from the past year on your child’s bedroom wall. Help your child choose photos or create drawings to illustrate your best family moments.
  • Love Notes: Throughout the holiday season, hide a few notes of praise in places where your child will find them. When you get together for meals over the holiday break, share your love notes with each other.
  • Family Tree: Help your child learn about your family history by making family tree ornaments that they can use as decorations during the holidays.
  • Cook Together: Ask your children to name their favorite family holiday foods. Then, set aside special time throughout the holiday break to prepare those foods together.

With some thought and creativity, you can help instill a sense of gratefulness and thankfulness in your children that will serve them well beyond the holiday season. Good luck, and happy holidays!

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