Teaching Your Kids How to Navigate Awkward Gifts With Honesty and Kindness

One of the arguments people often make in favor of lying is the need to spare the feelings of others. Yet God makes it clear multiple times in the Bible that he hates lying. So what happens when your 13 year old daughter receives a dress with pink giraffes on it – a dress she will probably never wear?

There is honestly no need for your child to lie. With a little training your kids can make the giver feel loved and appreciated without lying in the process. Here’s what your kids need to learn.

  • “Thank you” is a complete sentence. The lies often start when people feel the need to be enthusiastic about the specific gift. Thank you, said with a smile is enough.
  • Watch the facial expressions. Your kids need to avoid making ugly faces when they don’t like a gift. They don’t have to act enthusiastic or thrilled, but a kind smile goes a long way.
  • The thought really should count more than the gift. Yes, Aunt Bee has purchased a gift for a child a decade younger than your child, but she loves your child dearly and has used part of her limited income to try and bring joy to him or her. Teach your children to appreciate the loving, but out of touch giver. ”You are always so sweet to remember me” is truthful and probably means more to the giver than raving about the specifics of the gift itself.
  • Grace is needed for thoughtless givers. Who knows why that friend or relative somehow forgot to purchase a Christmas present for your child until December 25 and obviously grabbed something from the only gas station that’s open? Your kids can practice being patient with thoughtless gift givers. If they treat them with love and kindness, they may grow a little from the exchange.
  • When asked a direct question answer honestly, but as kindly as possible. “Did I get the right size?” The answer is obviously ”not even close”, but how can your child soften the blow, while still being totally honest? Say the answer kindly and then find a possible excuse for the mistake. “It’s a little small – I’m a size 10 now – but I’m growing so fast, it’s hard to keep up!” Honest, but kind, understanding and gives the gift giver important information for the future.
  • Follow any tough honesty with appreciation for the love behind the gift. Have your child say something honest they love about the person or especially about spending time with the person. The person may be a little embarrassed at first, but hearing, “Gifts are welcome, of course (with a cute wink), but I just love that I got to spend extra time with you today doing (or talking about) xyz” will make everything feel right again. Of course, whatever is said must be honest and from the heart or it won’t ring true to anyone.

Of course, the truth is that most gifts can be exchanged or regifted to someone who would appreciate it. Gift giving occasions shouldn’t be about how many or how expensive the gifts, but the love of friends and family celebrating with us. With a little practice, your kids can be honest and loving even when receiving the most awkward gifts.

Published by

Thereasa Winnett

Thereasa Winnett is the founder of Teach One Reach One and blogger at Parenting Like Hannah. She holds a BA in education from the College of William and Mary. She has served in all areas of ministry to children and teens for more than thirty years and regularly leads workshops for ministries and churches. She has conducted numerous workshops, including sessions at Points of Light’s National Conference on Volunteering and Service, the National Urban Ministry Conference, Pepperdine Bible Lectures, and Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration. Thereasa lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Greg, where she enjoys reading, knitting, traveling and cooking.

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