Google+ Authentic Parenting: Teaching Kids How To Be Thankful For Gifts

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Teaching Kids How To Be Thankful For Gifts

content provided by Alex S.

Kids today get a lot of gifts and a great way to combat the entitlement mentality is to teach them to be thankful. While appropriate responses come naturally to some children, many need specific, practical guidance.

Being thankful, WoodleyWonderWorks

Model it


Role modeling is one of the best ways our children learn anything—how to react to disappointment, how to relate to other people and how to show gratitude. Take every opportunity you can to model for your children how they should respond when receiving gifts and you’ll find them mimicking your attitude, words and body language.
You probably get gifts all the time from your children—handmade drawings, a pretty stone they picked up at the park, or a specially made cookie. These are great opportunities to demonstrate what thankfulness sounds like and feels like. What words do you use to express your appreciation for the gift? Do you give a big hug or pat on the back?
Also, be sure your kids do not hear you saying negative things about gifts you receive—like lamenting the horrible clothing your mother gives you every year. Be cautious about how you talk about re-gifting unwanted items. Remember, your kids are always listening to you so be careful what their little ears hear.

Appropriate responses


Kids tend to say what’s on their mind, so sometimes they need to be taught and prompted to be gracious. Before any occasion where your child will receive gifts, like Christmas and birthdays, role-play with them appropriate responses to different scenarios.

  • What will you do if Grandma gives you that remote control car you’ve been dying to have? Say: “Thank you. I love it!” A big hug might be in order as well.
  • What will you do if Grandma gives you socks and underwear? Say: “Thank you so much, Grandma!” The same big hug is probably still in order.
  • What will you do if your cousin Abby gives you a Barbie doll you already have? Say: “Thank you!” with a big smile.


Explain to your child that you and she can discuss how to handle the gift later. Be sure to explain that even if they don’t like the gift they receive, someone has spent time and money on it because they care about them. So, even if they don’t like the gift, they can be thankful for the thought behind it. This is a concept your children will understand more and more as they get older.

Thank you cards


Thank you cards seem often neglected these days, but they are an important part of expressing gratitude for gifts. Sometimes thank you cards for Christmas or birthday gifts can seem totally overwhelming—so skip the personal handwritten notes by the child and opt for something more manageable.


  1. Take pictures of your child with each gift. Or, take a group picture—all the birthday party guests and birthday child in front of the cake, or your child (or children) in front of the Christmas tree before opening gifts. 
  2. Upload the photos to an online photo processor.
  3. Print the pictures as custom holiday photo cards or prints. Add printed text like, “Thanks for coming to by Birthday Party!” or “Thank you! I love it!”
  4. Have your child (or children) sign each card or picture. (A fine tipped permanent marker works best.)
  5. Mail as thank you cards to each person.


Doing thank you cards this way is quick, inexpensive, and painless. And, everyone will love receiving
Receiving presents with grace, MissMessie
a picture of the event with your child’s signature!

Taking the time to help your child develop polite and appropriate thankfulness habits will serve them well as adults. It’s also sure to save you from some very awkward and embarrassing moments!


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