Help Kids Look Appreciative (Even When They're Not!)

You know the moment: Grandma hands your child a beautifully wrapped present and then waits with anticipation for the kid's response. Ah, the excitement! Your child is sure it contains an iPod that they've hinted about for the past weeks, but when your kid rips open the box, she finds a scarf. Pretty. Pink. Cashmere. But not an iPod. Now you could have one awkward moment on you hands. How would your child handle the disappointment?

Let's face it, sometimes we see behaviors in our kids that aren't always so becoming. Here is one Mom's recent question:

I have a three year-old son. He's an only child and I'm a single mom. Here's my dilemma, there are at least 3 birthday parties we'll be attending in the coming weeks and from his behavior last year, it makes me sort of dread attending. When the birthday child opened a gift, my son, started to cry because he wanted one too. How do I handle an encore of this performance?


It's easy for kids to look grateful about receiving gifts they like, but it's much harder for kids to learn to accept an unappealing gift with grace... especially with a younger child. So here's the answer to your dilemma: Teach your child how to accept gifts graciously by rehearsing polite comebacks prior to the event. In fact, the best way to learn any new behavior is by rehearsing it over and over until it kicks in. And the more your child practices ahead of time the more likely he will be able to open up that gift and tactfully say "thank you" despite the disappointment.

With a younger child, play the scene out by giving him a present and rehearsing opening up the present and then practicing the lines. A few gracious responses might be, "Thank you for this. I really appreciate it" or "Thanks. That was nice of you."

Sometimes, "Thank you so much!" might be best. It may help to actually practice what your face looks like when it is happy vs. disappointed. Make sure you discuss the effort that went into buying the gift. Stress that your child doesn't have to like a gift but he must show his appreciation for the effort that went behind the thought.

Christmas morning is fast approaching, so start practicing!

Click here to read more of Michele Borba's Q&As, or leave a comment below with your own questions and it may be answered next week.



12Secrets_Borba.jpgDr. Michele Borba is the author of over 22 books including 12 Simple Secrets Real Moms Know .

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