With the holidays now upon us, you’ve no doubt noticed the increased number of commercials for cars, jewelry, toys, and things that you NEED to buy this gift-giving season. Many of us get sucked into these traps and believe that if we give or receive these things that happiness will follow. This may be true…but only temporarily. Kids are especially susceptible to the lure of stuff during the holiday. I would like to share with you a few ways you can make sure to raise your children to be grateful rather than greedy this holiday and for the rest of their lives.
1) Employ the four gift rule: something they want, something they need, something to wear, and something to read. Not only will they know what to expect with this rule, it will also cut down on the amount of gifts they receive, and hopefully lessen the squabbling between siblings.
2) Take time to serve someone else less fortunate. Take your kids to serve a meal at a homeless shelter with you, volunteer at a food pantry or clothing center, adopt a family to give gifts and/or a meal to, or find another cause you can join in together as a family. Volunteering your time and being a generous, caring person will show your kids the value of what they have and the value of being a person who is able to help others.
3) Donate toys, clothes, etc. that your kids do not use any longer, but not without their help or input. Get them in on it by explaining how much they will be helping another kid in need.
4) Model gratefulness yourself. Always say “please” and “thank you”, especially around your kids. Teach them through your words and actions how you’d like them to behave.
5) Make gratefulness a regular practice – not just during the holidays. You are your kids’ greatest teacher and you can help develop them into the young men and women you hope they become. Talk to them about what it means to be grateful and brainstorm ways together that you can all practice regularly.
Raising grateful children will make your job much easier as a parent. It takes patience and practice, but it is possible.