Christmas and birthdays can prove challenging to kids. Almost everyone has that one relative who means well, but for some reason always buys the gift your kids are sure to hate. As a Christian, you don’t want them to lie, but you don’t want to hurt sweet Auntie Jane either. Or, maybe your kids have turned gift getting into a full time job…leveraging opportunities for more gifts that would put any Wall Street tycoon to shame!
Let’s be honest. Gift getting is a parenting minefield. Teaching your kids these four skills, however, can make gifting a lot less hazardous (and hopefully more godly) in your home.
- Teach your kids to expect nothing. Gift getting problems often begin when expectations aren’t met. When the focus is on building expectations, gift getting is in danger of becoming an exercise in greed and entitlement. If your kids can learn to expect nothing, then anything will be a pleasant surprise.
- Encourage your kids to express gratitude for everything. It’s important to teach them that “their truth” isn’t necessarily “the truth”. Just because they think the sweater from Aunt Jane is ugly or that books make horrible gifts, doesn’t mean the sweater actually is ugly or that books make bad gifts. It is merely their opinion and does not need to be shared with the gift giver. Neither should your kids lie and say a sweater they think is ugly is beautiful. Rather, teach them the art of expressing gratitude for the love, time and effort the person put into choosing the gift for them. Or to find some aspect of the present they like and thank the person for that. Socks may not be their favorite gift, but “Thanks! Those socks look like they will really keep me warm!” is an honest expression of gratitude. Those thanked in person don’t necessarily need a thank you note, but gifts received in the mail or through a third party should be appreciated with a call or note to the giver.
- Help your kids share their blessings. Whether it’s giving a sibling a turn playing with their toy or passing on toys, books and clothes they have outgrown to others, your kids should focus on at least a balance of receiving and giving. All getting and no giving makes for a very selfish child.
- Teach your kids to acknowledge all of their blessings are from God and regularly thank God for those blessings. Establish a pattern of thanking God for everything – not just foods at mealtime. Every good thing does come from God and should be appreciated as a blessing. Prayers should always contain an element of gratitude.
Don’t forget, you need to model what you teach to your kids. Grateful, appreciative parents often raise grateful, appreciative children.