Of the many parenting tips that make a difference to families, we love the idea of limiting gifts by using this little poem: “Something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read.” This is the time of the year when all of the commercials on television seem to be geared toward children, convincing them they need each new toy and gadget on the market.
It’s easy for all of us, children and adults alike, to get caught up in the busy buying season. But how can we make opportunities to teach our children about gratitude during this season? Here are a few holiday parenting tips to integrate into your Christmas season.
1. Limit Excessive Gift Giving
Between parents, grandparents, and Santa your children can end up stockpiling a considerable number of gifts during the month of December. It’s hard to remember to be grateful when receiving seems like second nature. “Something you want, something you need, something you wear, something you read.” Following a structure like this is a cute way to teach your children what to expect during the holidays.
2. Writing Thank You Notes
Sometimes thank you note writing seems like a thing of the past, but there is no better way to learn to be grateful than to write it out. Thank you note writing is a fun and creative activity for families to do together, and who wouldn’t love a colorful note from the special kids in the family. Getting in the habit of writing thank you notes after receiving gifts is an excellent reminder to be thankful all year round. And, everyone enjoys receiving a personal hand-written note.
3. Get something, give something
Another excellent precedent to set is to give something away each time you get a gift. If you find that your house becomes overrun with toys by the time we enter a new year, invite your child to choose one item to give away to children, making room for each new toy they receive during the holidays. This is a great way to teach gratitude while keeping the toy stash at a manageable level. Plus, learning to find joy in giving is a lesson that will stick with your child forever.
4. Practice, practice, practice!
Just like playing an instrument or learning a new language, the practice of gratitude is a skill that, with practice, can be developed and refined over time. You’re probably already teaching your children to say please and thank you, but there are lots of other ways to practice gratitude. A popular gratitude practice is to go around the table and list what you’re thankful for before dinner each night. Plus, you have the added benefit of learning a little more about what is going on in your kids' lives.
We live in a consumer-driven world, and it’s safe to guess that won't be changing anytime soon. You and your children may be bombarded each day with more and more things that they “must have!” But, by practicing gratitude together as a family you can fight against that culture and instill the values in your children that mean the most to you. At St. Barnabas we believe strongly in a values-driven education and experiencing the joy of giving. For more parenting tips, or to learn more about our commitment to faith, virtue, and excellence, give us a call. We'd love to meet you and schedule a tour of our campus.