'Tis the season for giving and receiving gifts. It's also another golden teaching opportunity for parents.
We've all seen that moment when a child opens a gift and their honest response is one of displeasure. Parents everywhere cringe when hearing their child say, "I already have this one," or "What is this?" Been there.
Children have to be taught how to handle disappointment in gift receiving, as well as how to show gratitude for gifts they truly love. This is a social skill that takes time to master. Even as adults we find ourselves in situations where we struggle to say the right things when a random gift catches us off guard.
Here are a few tips to help your child be a gracious gift recipient.
1. Have the conversation. Talk with your child about the event ahead of time. Make sure their expectations are clear about gifts. It is a privilege to get a gift, not a right. If your child thinks of any gift as a bonus and not a given, they are more likely to be grateful for whatever is unwrapped.
2. Role-play with your child. Hand them a make-believe package. Have them smile and act excited to receive the gift. After opening the gift, it is important to say something positive and specific about the gift. Have them practice some positive responses like "I love the color red," or "I've heard about this toy and I'm excited to have one of my own."
3. Explain the meaning of "thank you." Have your child say "thank you" while looking you in the eyes. Children need to understand that saying "thank you" is not only for the gift, but also for the time and thought the person put into picking out something special for them.
Whether they love the gift or not, they can be thankful for the thought behind the gift. Help your child understand someone cares enough to spend money on a gift, take the time to wrap it and to deliver it. Saying "thank you" in response lets the giver know we feel special for all they did for us.
4. Write a letter. A simple sentence and even a picture are great ways for a child to say "thank you." If your child is too young to write, have them tell you their thoughts and you can write it for them. They can also color a picture related to the gift to include with the note. Hand-written notes in a child’s voice and handwriting are the sweetest expressions of gratitude. Let them spell the words how they think best. Keep it authentic and sincere.
If you need a good starting point, click here for downloadables including gratitude tips, a thank-you note template and a coloring sheet.