By Marli Naidoo
It’s time to open gifts and the kids want to jump out of their skin with excitement, while the parents break out in a cold sweat. How will your child react to his gifts? Hopefully he doesn’t cry when he opens his uncle’s gift.
When your three-year-old shows he isn’t happy with his gift, it is normal, and you can’t do much about it. When, however, it is your teenager who sits around with a long face after having torn of the gift wrap, you need urgent intervention. Teach your children from a young age about gratitude and prepare them for Christmas.
The short-term aim is to master etiquette. Teach your child to say thank you, even if he doesn’t like his gift, and to preferably do it with a smile. You can practise with role-play. Remind them of it just before they open their presents.
The long-term aim is to cultivate a culture of gratitude in your family. It will ensure that your child will one day be an adult who not only wants to receive, but who likes to give.
Make sure your child knows he will not be getting everything on his wish list. He shouldn’t think he is getting a horse if you are living in a flat.
Focus on the meaning of Christmas. What is the deeper meaning for your family?
Make a list of everything for which you are grateful. Help your children to list things that money can’t buy, such as love, safety, summer days etc. Do it regularly.
Let your children buy or make gifts for each other. You can provide the money, but they have to think carefully about what they will buy, wrap it themselves, and later hand it over themselves. If they make gifts, it will be good to see how much work and love go into hand-made items. They can then imagine how much work it takes for their aunt to knit them jerseys every year.
Get involved in a programme that sends Christmas gifts to the less-privileged, or let them make up food parcels for families in need.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen, children’s home of animal shelter the whole year. Together you can choose where you want to become involved.
Teach them to write a thank-you card and to send it, or to make a video for their grandparents to say thank you for gifts.
Restrict gifts during the year. They can save up their pocket money and buy themselves something they really want.
Be a good role model. You cannot expect your children to be grateful if you yourself are always complaining about everything.
Focus on the family: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/teaching-thankfulness/
Huffington Post: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/teaching-kids-an-attitude_b_13821422