FIVE STEPS TO A MORE GRATEFUL CHILD
We know the stories – ones that remind us the true meaning of the season, but unless we make these stories our own, we are at risk of losing the real magic of Christmas and Hanukkah. So, between making cookies, shopping and rushing here or there, help your child (and you) find joyful gratitude with these simple exercises:
- Set the example: It all starts with you. As much as we think our children don’t listen, the fact is, they are often mirrors of us. Make sure to practice the behaviors and comments you expect of your child.
- Giving is better than receiving: Toys can sometimes seem to multiply on their own. Before you open oodles of new presents, go through the playroom and collect things Santa can pick up to gift to other children. It helps him a lot and allows children to take a true inventory of what they already have.
- Slow down: If you have the luxury of being home when your kids return from school, afternoon tea is the perfect time to enjoy their company. Surprise them with a simple and small gift of the heart: a pretty table setting, a story from your childhood, fresh picked flowers or something homemade. Practice their responses to these gifts (and demonstrate enthusiasm as the gift-giver) so they can think back to this moment and remember when it’s time to thank others.
- Don’t overdo it: If you want to go for the wow factor on Christmas, fill the room with something other than gifts like fake snow (white balloons) or homemade paper snowflakes, strung at different heights from the ceiling. When opening presents, slow down and give attention to each item and who it’s from (bonus points for writing down for thank you cards later). Play (present) hide and seek, with clues to where they are hidden in the house. After all, the presentation is half the fun and you cannot spell presentation without the present!
- Keep others in mind: Not all presents must come from Santa or immediate family – allow extended family to take credit. Ask your school, church or temple if there is a family in need and have your children help make this time of year a little more special for them. Reminding children that this is first and foremost a season of giving will keep their priorities balanced.
Let this be a gentle reminder to find gratitude in your own heart first, then lead your children to it. Show generosity, patience and demonstrate gentleness as often as possible. In a season where our minds can become overrun with the material, creating quiet and simple moments is often where the real magic of the Holidays can be found.