Whether it’s a birthday or a holiday, like Easter, Hanukkah, or Valentine’s Day, your children will receive gifts…lots and lots of gifts. Young children don’t naturally understand the lifecycle of gift giving, i.e. the thought that went into the gift, the effort to procure the gift, the financial outlay, etc., so it’s up to you to explain it to them if you want them to both appreciate the gifts they are given and to receive them graciously.
Although your child will not love every gift they receive, it’s important that they know to say thank you. Do they need to divulge right then and there that they like a gift (or not)? That’s a tricky and delicate question – our advice is to encourage your child to smile and say thank you upon opening a gift, whether they love it or not. If they do love it, they can gush and try it on or play with it. If they don’t, after the unwrapping frenzy is over you can always be the bad guy and spill the beans that your daughter isn’t into pink dresses any more or that your son already has a light saber.
Thank You Notes
If gifts were sent in the mail and your child cannot thank the giver in person, a thank you note is in order. If the act of writing or making thank you notes is taught early, your child may eventually do it automatically, or with gentle prodding. We’ve been hearing that thank you notes are falling out of fashion (but we still believe in them!) so the recipient of the thank you note will be delighted that their gift was well-received and that your child took the time to let them know.
While your child may not have their own money to spend on gifts, getting them into the habit of gift giving can help them understand the process and (hopefully) be more appreciative of what they receive. So, if there’s a holiday or a special someone’s birthday coming up, take them shopping with a little money to spend or help them make homemade gifts. This process will help them think of others and what others might like, which in turn, can teach appreciation.
Just remember that special occasions can be overwhelming, especially for younger children. Sure, there may be meltdowns, but with some effort on your part, each one will go more smoothly than the last!