With endless toy ads, the trinket section at most major stores, and gifts from Grandma arriving on a regular basis, your little ones are probably bombarded with toys and knick-knacks they don’t really need. All this excess material could lead them to have a sense of entitlement that replaces your darling angel with a green-eyed monster always hungry for more. Unfortunately, the holidays only exacerbate this problem. So here are five of the best ways to teach your children to be more grateful this holiday season.
1. Donate Excess Toys, Clothes and Other Items
Before the new gifts start rolling in, it’s always a good idea to sort through closets and toy boxes to find items your children no longer use. Get them to help you, asking them to find at least three toys they haven’t played in a while, but another little boy or girl might love. Help them envision a new child being excited to open it. It may be a challenge in the beginning, but once you can find one thing they are willing to part with, it’ll be easier to find more.
2. Volunteer Your Time and Effort
Take a family field trip to your local soup kitchen or elderly home. By serving those less fortunate or spending time with those who are lonely, you will be helping to instill a giving heart in your kids. Exposing them to different people and situations is an activity that kids from preschool to high school can benefit from. Not only will the experience teach your children to be more grateful, but they will also remember it for a lifetime.
3. Show How Giving is Better Than Receiving
Show your child that it is more rewarding to give than to receive. Bring supplies to your local animal shelter, help older kids build houses with organizations like Habitat for Humanity, or deliver gifts to your local children’s hospital. They are excellent ways to teach your children that making a difference can also be fun.
4. Always Practice What You Preach
Kids do what they see. So let your little ones see you give away your own clothes you don’t wear anymore, donate to the food pantry, and graciously receive presents. Look for those little opportunities that happen every day to teach your children to be more grateful.
5. Write “Thank You” Notes
Whenever someone gives your child a gift, have them sit down and write a “thank you” note in return. Explain to them the time, money, and effort that someone spent to give them such a thoughtful gift and how kind it was of them. Even if your little one can’t write, setting aside time for them to color a picture conveys the same message: it’s good to always say, “thank you.”
When you teach your children to be more grateful for what they have, they will pass that on to their siblings, friends and even future generations. It may seem like a daunting task, but these five simple steps can help. With a little guidance from you and exposing them to new experiences, you can open their hearts, and not just for the holiday season, but for the rest of their lives.