Did the Gifts Not Go Over Well? How to Teach Your Kids to Be Grateful

Did this happen to you over the holidays? Your child opens a gift and says, “I already have a truck. I don’t want this.” Or, “That’s all I get?” We went through this, too, this year, so we talked to a parenting expert to get some tips on teaching kids how to be grateful for their gifts -- whether it’s a shiny new MP3 player or a dollar-store toy.

“Remember that teaching gratitude is not something done in one or two lessons, but in a lifetime,” says Jan Faull, M.Ed., author of Amazing Minds: The Science of Nurturing Your Child’s Developing Mind with Games, Activities and More. “Parents can start in little bits and pieces."

Her tips:

Model gracious gift receiving. Whatever you say and do when you open a gift, your child will learn from.

Practice. Talk about what’s important when you receive a gift, such as saying thank you.

Play. You can "play" present-giving with toys you have at home to reinforce the message.

Prompt. When your child opens a gift, it’s OK to gently prompt them, saying "Now what do you say?" Children need reminders.

Teach them to white lie. If your older kid gets a toy she already has or receives something she doesn't like, teach them to say, "Thank you very much" anyway.

Be patient but persistent. Remember that while we can start teaching saying “thank you” at age 2 or 3, don’t expect all these skills to be in place until about age 7 or 8.

How do you teach your child gratitude? Chime in below!

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