Around the holiday season, we love to be generous in gift giving, especially to our children. With so many colorful and appealing toy commercials urging us to spend, spend, spend, it’s easy for kids to get wrapped up in the flurry of commercialism and want every toy they see. Now is the time to teach children appreciation. Here are some ways to help your little ones understand the concept.
- Start with basic manners. “Please” and “thank you” go a long way and create a solid foundation for appreciation. You can start teaching children please and thank you before they can even speak by using sign language.
- Teach children to share. Young children don’t really understand the concept of sharing and see their belongings as an extension of themselves. Focus on the positive when teaching children to share. When you find them sharing without being asked, rather than showering them with praise, paint a picture of how their actions helped someone else. For example, instead of saying, “Thank you so much for sharing your sandwich! You’re a good little boy!” Say something like, “I’m proud of you for sharing your sandwich with me. I was very hungry and now my tummy feels much better.” This shows children how their sharing benefits others in terms they can understand.
- Help kids understand money management. Children can’t understand the concept of money unless we teach it to them. Show children what the purchases they want require. You can do this by setting expectations for household chores, and if those chores are completed satisfactorily, you reward them with a small allowance. If your child wants to purchase something, sit down together and make a budget. Show your child how many weeks of chores it will take to purchase the item and help him or her save. When children have a better grasp on the concept of money, how much items cost and how much work it requires to make money, it will foster appreciation in them for the things they receive.
- Downsize your holiday. Set your spending limit for gifts and have the children choose one or two items that they really want to receive. Focus more on making lasting memories as a family through activities like decorating, playing games, visiting family and friends or volunteering. When the focus shifts from material goods, children will be more appreciative of the gifts they receive.
- Avoid lecturing. Children learn by what we demonstrate to them, not what we lecture them about. If your children seem unappreciative, don’t take it personally. Work on reinforcing behaviors you want your children to exhibit, rather than punishing behaviors you don’t want to see. For instance, if your child says thank you to an adult without prompting, let him or her know you are proud of their great manners.
- Keep daily spending under control. Small purchases here and there can add up and lead to escalating expectations from your children. Set clear expectations about what you’re going to spend money on and stick to them. If you tell your children they aren’t getting anything from the grocery store, but give in and buy them a pack of gum or small toy, you’re reinforcing their repeated begging for items at the store. Let them know before you enter a store what you intend to purchase, and don’t entertain any other requests. Let them know that if they ask for items, they will not receive an answer. Don’t respond to any further requests for items to show them that you are sticking to your spending plan.
Building a sense of appreciation, even for small things, helps children enjoy what they have and what they receive, and it will help you and your children have a happier holiday. For more tips on encouraging appreciation and developing other positive traits in children, contact Sparkles! today. We’re here to help.