The giving season is here and, for most of us, we’re lucky enough that this means plenty of food, great company and, of course, loads of presents. But how can you remind the kids to be polite, grateful and remember their manners during a time of so much indulgence?
From the moment they put pen to paper to write their Santa wish list, to the flurry of wrapping paper and squeals of delight on Christmas morning. It’s so easy for your kids to get caught up in the excitement of Christmas and for their manners to fly out the window. Simply reminding them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ – whether they’ve just been given a Christmas cookie or a shiny new iPad – at every opportunity will remind them that it’s always important to be polite. Plus, correcting bad manners any time you witness them is the best way to stop them in their tracks.
Lead by example
While it’s certainly important to remind your child of their manners, it’s even more essential that you do so in a polite way. Remember that manners stem from respect for others. If your child sees you treating them or someone else in a way that isn’t respectful, they will come to learn that’s OK. It’s the old ‘do unto others as you would have others do unto you’ adage. It is believed that the ages of two to four years are when your child will learn the most from the adults around them. So ensure you plentifully use the words “please” and “thank you” around your children (and in your day-to-day interactions, obviously!) even when they’re really little.
Practice gratitude daily
Good manners aren’t the only thing your children should have a good grasp of. It’s also important to remind them to be grateful for the things that they have, particularly at Christmas time. Adding small, gratitude-focused routines into your child’s week – like writing regular ‘thank you’ letters, however long, or having a ‘gratitude list’ on display somewhere in your home – will help cultivate their understanding of what it actually means to be thankful. Start small by asking them to name one thing they’re grateful for at the end of every day. Their answers might surprise you. This is a perfect dinner table routine to get into.
Christmas is a time of giving, but that doesn’t have to mean giving material gifts. Involving your children in volunteer work at an early age will help them to understand that not everyone has the same privileges. We’re not telling you to send your six-year-old to work in a soup kitchen. There are ways you can help people in your own home, like having them help you pick out canned goods from the pantry or their unwanted toys to give to those less fortunate. Or get them to help you put together care packages and activity boxes for sick or underprivileged children and their families.
Look beyond the ‘stuff’
Christmas is certainly somewhat about the presents – we won’t deny that. But it’s a good time of year to remind your kids, and yourself, that life isn’t all about material possessions. By looking out for all of the little, awe-inspiring moments that happen throughout your day and pointing them out to your kids. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to remind yourself that there is so much more to be grateful for than the new car you’re dreaming of or the pair of shoes you just bought. Whether it’s your toddler’s fit of giggles or your kids showing kindness to one another, stop and appreciate those moments and make a point of saying how much you enjoy them to your kids. Years on, they’re more likely to remember those heart-warming moments with you than whatever toy they got for Christmas that year. We promise.