9 Tips to Foster an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Kids

(without spoiling them this holiday season!)

christmas gift

Earlier this week, we posted ideas submitted by our Positive Parenting Solutions Facebook Fans on how to foster an attitude of gratitude this holiday season. Listed below are even more ideas on how to shift the focus from getting to giving over the holidays.

  • Limit TV Time before the holidays! You can’t control advertisers from marketing to your kids – but you can control how much exposure your kids have to those advertisements. Limiting how much time they spend in front of the TV will limit (not eliminate) the exposure they have to all of the latest and greatest ads intended to woo our kids.
  • Manage the gift expectations. Talk to your kids about their wish lists and have them force rank the gifts they love the most. Then – set a limit. If you’re celebrate Hanukkah – one gift on each of the 8 nights makes it easy. If you celebrate Christmas – set a limit – either in the number of gifts for younger kids or a dollar amount for older kids. Try to make an agreement with extended family to purchase only one gift per child. (This can be tricky – but if the whole family is on board – they may be more likely to go along.)
  • Focus on the real meaning of the holiday. Gifts are one part of the holiday experience – but teach your kids about WHY you celebrate that holiday. What does it mean to your faith? Why are gifts part of the holiday and what do they represent? Then – shift the focus to giving. Spend the majority of your holiday preparations on the joy of giving to others. Encourage your kids to create gifts for family and friends – or give non-material gifts like coupons for breakfast in bed, a weekend of yard work, a back massage – what ever would be meaningful to that person. Adopt a family through your place of worship or school and get everyone involved in making the holiday more special for that family.
  • Role-play HOW to show gratitude. Practice the words to use when someone gives them a gift or shows kindness. Help them practice showing gratitude for the thought or the effort behind the gift, not just the gift. “That was so thoughtful of you to find something pink because you know that’s my favorite color.”
  • Have them send handwritten thank you notes within 1 day of receiving a gift. (Sorry, but emails don’t cut it!) Provide training on HOW to write thank you notes. Set a minimum number of sentences for their thank you notes…example – 2nd grade: at least 2 sentences. 3rd grade: 3 sentences.
  • Limit gift giving throughout the year. Kids who have everything don’t appreciate gifts as much. Be very careful of overindulging your kids throughout the year. We recommend that parents buy new toys/stuff only on holidays and birthdays. Other than that, kids over the age of 4 should have an allowance and pay for their own toys. During the holidays, limit the number of gifts for each child. The more gifts they receive, the less special each one becomes.
  • Count your blessings as a family. Make counting blessings part of your mealtime ritual or bedtime ritual. As kids get older, encourage them to keep a daily gratitude journal. Being intentional about gratitude is a daily reminder about how lucky we are.
  • Let kids SEE how lucky they are. Ongoing lectures about “you don’t know how good you have it” only makes their eyes roll. Get out into the community with your kids and serve food in a soup kitchen, adopt a family during the holidays, or visit kids who are in homeless shelters so they can SEE how fortunate they really are.
  • Model gratitude. Take time to show gratitude yourself. Thank your kids and your spouse for their helpful and thoughtful acts. Show random acts of gratitude to the cashier, the person who makes your coffee at Starbucks, and the drycleaner. Modeling gratitude yourself will make your kids more likely to adopt an attitude of gratitude.

What other ways do you teach your kids about the importance of giving and gratitude? Please leave a comment so others can learn from you! Happy Holidays from Positive Parenting Solutions. We are truly grateful for you!

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About the Author

Amy McCready
Nationally recognized parenting expert Amy McCready is the Founder of Positive Parenting Solutions and the best selling author of The “Me, Me, Me” Epidemic - A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World and If I Have to Tell You One More Time…The Revolutionary Program That Gets Your Kids to Listen Without Nagging, Reminding or Yelling. As a “recovering yeller” and a Certified Positive Discipline Instructor, Amy is a champion of positive parenting techniques for happier families and well-behaved kids. Amy is a TODAY Show contributor and has been featured on CBS This Morning, CNN, Fox & Friends, MSNBC, Rachael Ray, Steve Harvey & others. In her most important role, she is the proud mom of two amazing young men.