Cultivating Gratitude in Your Children this Holiday Season
Amongst the hustle and bustle of the holidays, there are many opportune moments for cultivating strong character traits in your children ~ traits such as gratitude, kindness, and social responsibility. The acts of giving and receiving gifts and the charitable opportunities that abound during the holidays offer parents the chance to not only teach these traits but also to model them for your children. This article includes tips for maximizing those teachable moments and bringing out the best in your kids this holiday season.
1. Teach them that it's fun to give!
It's easy for kids to get caught up in the "gimmes," with the abundance of toy catalogs and commercials for the latest and greatest toys that appear this time of year. While perusing the catalogs and making their holiday wish lists, encourage your children to make a list of people to whom they'd like to give gifts, such as teachers, grandparents, and siblings.
Letting them spend their own money on a sibling or grandparent gift allows them to experience firsthand the amount of thought that goes with choosing a special gift for someone, while also feeling the excitement of watching someone else open a gift that they have chosen. You can also have your child make homemade ornaments for family and teachers. Pinterest provides many ideas for homemade gifts.
2. Show them the joy of helping others.
Nothing cultivates gratitude more than recognizing that there are people in our own communities who struggle to have their basic needs met. Help your children see firsthand that there are those less fortunate than they are, by seeking out family volunteer opportunities. Start a coat drive in your neighborhood, deliver holiday meals for Meals on Wheels, sing carols at a local hospital or nursing home, and/or have your children go through their toys and books and donate the ones that they've outgrown to children in need.
3. Model gratitude.
Children learn what they witness, so model gratitude yourself. When you receive a gift from someone, take a moment to verbalize your appreciation. State out loud, "They put a lot of thought into choosing this gift for me," or "How kind of them to remember me this season."
4. Incorporate new traditions that model kindness.
Many families have adopted the Elf on the Shelf tradition. The Kindness Elves offer a unique spin on this tradition. Each day leading up to Christmas, the Kindness Elves leave an act of kindness suggestion, encouraging children to incorporate kindness into the season in fun and creative ways.
Alternatively, you can print off holiday RACKs (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness) and place them inside an advent calendar as you count down to Christmas Day.
Use our reward charts to keep track of your child's daily acts of Christmas kindness. You could have the Kindness Elves deliver a Kenson Kids star along with their suggested act of kindness each day, or place a star inside your advent calendar along with your RACKS.
Stopping to express gratitude and appreciation for the season will benefit both parents and their children, allowing everyone to slow down and acknowledge the real meaning of the holidays: love, joy, and giving.