Monday, December 20, 2010

Gifts and Grumpies

During the holidays, a lot of families will get together and share meals, memories and more. Gifts are often part of the equation, and how parents handle that event with children is important. Let's take a peek at a typical holiday gathering ...

After a quick survey of goodies, a Gift Grumpy might say, "The biggest box is gonna be MINE."

Another Grumpy opens a gift, tosses it aside and whines, "This ain't a present... it's only some clothes."

Some Grumpies will hurry through opening a stack of gifts and then ask,
"What *else* did you get me?"

And the grand finale -- after receiving their goodies and glancing at them with a yawn, all the Grumpies tend to wear expressions that say, "What can we do now? We're bored."

So how do parents train their children to be appreciative? Here's one idea ...

When our niece was a toddler, her parents wisely involved her in the gift exchange from the get-go. Instead of surrounding her with a pile of presents and making her the center of attention, they asked her to help hand out everyone's gifts.

What a cute little helper she was -- squatting to pick up packages and taking them to the proper recipient (with a little help from Dad or Mom). We all made a big deal of thanking her and she loved it. Once everyone had their packages, she was ready to plop down and open her own. Smart parents.

They later had another daughter, who was designated as primary gift-passer-outer when she became a toddler. Laina loved her job and we loved watching her delight in "giving!" At ages 7 and 11, these girls are still very thoughtful, gracious and giving -- to their wise parents' credit.

Consider some ways to involve your children in the giving process. As you shop, ask your son or daughter's help in choosing gifts for others. This can be as simple as holding up two similar items and asking, "Which do you think Gran would like best?" Go with his choice and let him help wrap the gift or tape it closed. When the gift is opened, make it a point to tell one who receives it that your child helped select it.

Just as there are many types of families and all different kinds of personalities, there are many ways to train children to use good manners and show gratitude. It may be as simple as saying a genuine Thank you! to the giver right away.

Children can also be taught to write (or draw) thank you notes after-the-fact. We were delighted to receive crayon scribbles from our 19-month old grandson after he received his birthday package. His Mommy wrote, Thank you, Nana and Papaw, From Ethan, at the bottom of the drawing, and I imagine she said it aloud while doing it.

There are other ways to express thanks. How do you teach your children to be grateful and appreciative? Do you take advantage of gratitude training during holiday gifting? -- Please share with us -- and most of all ...

How do *you* avoid the dreaded Gift Grumpy?


  1. Nan...what wonderful ideas to share with us all. Children are blessings...and can bring us more joy and love than we can fathom. Helping them to learn the joy of giving...being helpers...and truly letting them help and praising them and praising them are wonderful gifts we can give them. This will help them understand and practice generosity from the them to realize that they are indeed important and loved....and instill self confidence in them. Those attributes are worth more than any present we could leave for them underneath the tree.
    Bless you and your family ...not only at this time of the year but all year long.
    Love to you from Jackie

  2. Love this!! SO wise!! Merry Christmas, dearest Nan!!! Just wanted to send you my love on this Christmas eve!! ~Janine xo

  3. Thank you, Janine and Jackie! Love you both!


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