5 tips for teaching kids to be thankful during the holidays

Help your kids adopt an attitude of gratitude this holiday season.
Help your kids adopt an attitude of gratitude this holiday season. Getty Images/iStockphoto

With Christmas fast approaching, kids and parents alike are thinking more and more about the gifts that will be under the tree in a few short days. While the holidays are an inherently fun time—we have a short break from work and school, get to see family and friends, and share in some of our favorite traditions—it’s also a great opportunity to remind kids how to show gratitude for all that they receive.

By giving a little something while opening presents, whether it’s a simple “thank you” or waiting for their sibling’s turn to open their gifts, kids can get better at building important social and emotional skills like self-awareness and responsible decision making.

Here are 5 tips to help your kids adopt an attitude of gratitude this winter by giving and getting.

1: Give a look.

Glance at the gift tag before opening to see who it is from. Be sure to make eye contact with the person giving you the gift and give a smile. Get better at self-management and build impulse control when feeling excitement to slow down and focus.

Example: “Oh look, this gift is from Aunt Susie.”

2: Give a compliment.

Find something that you like about the gift (even if you don’t like the gift as a whole) to acknowledge the gift givers’ thoughtfulness. Get better at social awareness and becoming empathetic.

Example: “It’s red. That will go well in my room.”

3: Give an emotion.

Name an emotion that the gift makes you feel. Get better at self-awareness and building your emotional vocabulary.

Example: “I’m so surprised that I got a scooter!”

4: Give thanks.

Use your manners and show appreciation to the person giving you the gift – even get up and give a hug, if possible. Get better at relationship skills and building stronger relationships.

Example: “Thank you so much for the puzzle.”

5: Give a turn.

Don’t rip through your gifts all at once. Practice taking turns by opening one and then allowing others in the room to open theirs. Get better at responsible decision making by practicing delayed gratification.

Example: “Why doesn’t David take a turn? I want to see what he got.”

These tips can help kids take some time to give a little and show gratitude as they receive gifts this holiday season—and get even better at the important skills that will help them soar throughout their lives.

Nicole Williams is a social and emotional learning coach at WINGS for kids, an afterschool educational program that focuses on social and emotional learning at locations in North and South Carolina, including Bruns Academy and Walter G. Byers Elementary in Charlotte.