Our generation of kids appear to be born entitled these days, surrounded by adults who cater to their every need and whim. Christmas is the ultimate jackpot with high end devices being stuffed into jumbo sized stockings all over the country. But what if we could teach them how develop an attitude for gratitude? It would be, hands down, the most precious gift they get this year.
Gratitude goes way beyond good manners and it is a mind-set that we need to instill from a young age. We know that it’s hard to break away from the Christmas commercialism, but it’s not entirely impossible. Miss Manners has pulled together her top tips for teaching your children the real spirit of the holiday season, and building a sense of gratitude and thankfulness along the way.
The reason for the season
Whatever your religious beliefs or family background is, one thing is for sure: Christmas is a time for being together and appreciating each other and what we have. Your kids may beg to differ in that regard but by chatting together about why it’s special it will help steer their eye balls away from their Christmas I WANT list.
Reign it in
Excuse the pun but if you don’t want entitled, self-righteous kids you’ve just got to reign it in with the presents (ahem, not guilty of that at all). The more we get in life, the less we tend to appreciate so set a price limit on gifts from Santa and stick to it. They really don’t need half the stuff they receive and half of it is probably plastic tat you swear at by New Years Day.
Christmas stockings used to house a satsuma, chocolate and a pair of socks but these days people can spend upwards of £75 on stocking fillers. You can still create a fun stocking without spending the earth. The first rule of thumb is to opt for a smaller stocking! For extended family, reduce the sheer number of gifts by arranging a “Secret Santa” for the kids. That way they get one decent present instead of ten little ones. Everyone’s a winner.
Pay it forward
Shift the ‘me me me’ focus onto others this Christmas. Help your kids think of ways that they could give back to children or people in the locality who are less fortunate. It could be helping an elderly neighbour get some groceries, baking some cookies for your local nursing home or perhaps staying to visit someone without family.
The Salvation Army run a Christmas present appeal or you may have a localised centre that accepts gifts for children in your area. A little empathy and kindness in a child goes a long way.
In our heads, Christmas present opening is a polite, gentle affair with a crackling fire, champagne in hand and children happily playing with hand crafted wooden toys. In reality it’s a feral frenzied free for all with kids being thrust present after present before they’ve even acknowledged the last one.
Try to open presents one at a time so that everyone can anticipate and enjoy their gift. It may triple your present opening time but prepping a few nibbles and glasses of fizz will help everyone relax and enjoy it. Make sure that your child says thank you for each present as they open them. With eye contact. Miss Manners demands eye balling thank you’s.
Keep track of gifts and encourage your children to show their gratitude with a handwritten thank you note before they go back to school (emails and texts messages just don’t cut it!).
Model Gratitude at home
Model gratitude at home in the smallest of ways and your kids will pick up on it. From making a handmade gift for a friend, smiling and chatting to a shop assistant to looking after visiting guests in your home. So instead of flying into a rage at your sister or rolling your eyes at your uber critical mother-in-law, find restraint from within and lead by example.
Here’s to a bunch of grateful kids this Christmas!