Gratitude: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Children This Holiday Season

Gratitude: The Best Gift You Can Give Your Children This Holiday Season

{My article below appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of South Jersey MOM. You can find it on page 8 of the magazine.}

The holiday season is a beautiful-but-busy time of year. Whether we’re preparing for a large Thanksgiving Day feast, decorating our homes, or shopping for gifts, we have a lot to do. Sometimes, we’re so caught up with what needs to get done that we lose sight of the true meaning of the holidays.

GRATITUDE

The holidays are about being grateful for what we have. As parents, we want to see our children happy with the gifts they receive, but we know eventually those same gifts will be put to the side when better ones come along. It’s true that our kids may never appreciate any of those gifts as much as we’d like them to. With the amount of television commercials and toy advertisements, it’s no wonder their Christmas lists grow so long; however, the more they receive, the more they want, and the less thankful they become.

So, how can we instill gratitude in our children during the holidays which can easily become excessive and materialistic?

1. Don't Overdo It

Although it’s tempting to buy your child everything they want, don’t. Set limits. Ask them to prioritize their lists. If they get used to receiving a large amount of gifts, that’s what they’ll expect each year and they’ll appreciate each one less.

2. Create Family Traditions

Rather than focus on gift-giving, concentrate on creating family traditions instead. For example, each year pick out a special dessert to make together, get comfy on the couch in front of the fireplace and read aloud a holiday story Thanksgiving night, or drive around to look at the beautifully lit houses. Kids won’t remember which gifts they received each year, but they will surely remember the fun traditions you’ve created as a family.

3. Encourage Them to Give to Others

Giving to others allows kids to look outside themselves. Here are some great ways they can give back during the holiday season:

Clean out the toy box: More often than not, there are toys collecting dust somewhere. Encourage your child to go through them and put aside the toys they no longer play with. Donate them. There’s a child out there who would be thrilled to have them.

Be Kind to your Neighbors: Help out elderly or disabled neighbors. Have the kids rake the leaves or shovel snow from their driveway. They can also wish their neighbors happy holidays by baking cookies and delivering them door-to-door. These kind gestures go a long way.

Visit a Local Senior Center: Get your child’s creativity going! They can make a batch of holiday cards and hand-deliver them to the residents or get a group together and sing Christmas carols. Many seniors are lonely, especially during the holiday season. They may not have family members who visit them regularly and this will certainly brighten their spirits.

Make Special Treats for Animals: There are many easy homemade recipes for dog and cat treats. Make them at home and drop them off at the nearest shelter. Shelters are always looking for donations since they tend to run out of food quickly.

4. Lead by Example

Talk to your children about the things you are grateful for and be sure to tell those around you how much they mean to you. If we want our children to be grateful for what they have, we must model the behavior. Continue this year-round. They’ll begin to understand that it doesn’t have to do with what we receive but rather the memories we share and the love we give to others.

I hope this holiday season fills your family with happiness and gratitude💞

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