Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Teaching kids to be grateful--is it possible?

Mom2MomEd Blog: Teaching your kids gratitude--is it possible?
Sometimes I wonder if it's possible to teach young children (and older ones too) how to be grateful. I know they are sponges and are always soaking up their environment, so if we model how to be grateful they should pick it right up, right?


Not only will they not necessarily pick up how to be grateful, but they will also embarrass you at the most inopportune times with how ungrateful they actually are!

We happen to have two kids who have birthday's almost immediately after Christmas. My son's just so happens to be 10 days after. Yes, 10 days. I have a summer birthday and always thought it was awesome to receive gifts throughout the year.

My kids, however, pretty feel like they get gifts, gifts, and more gifts once per year and then, what? No more gifts?


Not only is there a TON  of kid stuff flying in and out of here, especially with Christmas followed by two birthdays, but we also are bound to have duplicate gifts some point. This is why I've made sure my kids understand: It's the thought that counts.

If someone gives you something that they think you will enjoy you say, "Thank you."

That is all.
You don't add a "But...." or an "I wish..." or an "I already have...."  

You just say, "Thank you."

This is a big time pet peeve of mine.

I went to a birthday party when Hank was a baby, and the child opening the gifts got two of the same things. Instead of saying thank you, there were full on tears and meltdowns because everyone should know that they were going to get a duplicate. The parent coddled the child, the child continued to cry, and I'm sure the gift givers felt bad. I felt annoyed, personally, and I vowed to make sure that my child would NEVER act like that. (I've learned now to never say never because our children are all bound to embarrass us at some point).

As early as it was feasibly possible, my husband and I started practicing being grateful with our kids. I know that modeling behavior is beneficial, but role playing is my go to when teaching my kids how to act in certain situations.

I mean, practice makes perfect, right???

I remember wrapping up toys that my son already owned and having him open them. Inside of some packages were his favorite toys, but others had items like a baby spoon or junk mail--things he wasn't interested in.

My son opened each packaged and then practiced saying, "Thank you so much! I love it."  We also practiced saying thank you if you get a duplicate gift and just setting it aside with the knowledge that I would help him to exchange the duplicate for something else later.

Now, with my daughter, she has not only her parents to model gratitude and grace for her, but also her brother.

While my kids are far from perfect, (and do say the wrong things at the worst possible times) I can honestly say that receiving gifts has been something that they have graciously done so far. I know that they get overly excited, can't wait to open presents, and can also give me a list a mile long of all of the things they "want", but over the last few years, they have learned to be appreciative of someone giving them gifts, even things they weren't that into.

In fact, this morning, my little guy looked at me and said, "You know what I'm most excited about this Christmas, Mom? It's spending time with my family."

Cue proud mommy moment and waterworks!  Whew!

While I have made a ton of parenting mistakes, yelled too many times at my kids, lost my mind, and tried to hide alone in the bathroom, I have also apparently done something right.

'Tis the season of chaos and gifts. You can't really get around it.

I'm challenging you to step back and think of one thing you've done right with or for your children this holiday season......and pat yourself on the back for that job well done!

What are some parenting things that you are most proud of? Do you have a parenting pet peeve, like I do, that really gets under your skin?  Share your experiences in the comments!

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