The gift of Gratitude: With Halloween in the rear view mirror all the shops and supermarkets are already gearing up for Christmas. For many parents this can be a really difficult time of year when budgets are stretched to breaking point. Ads are already starting to kick in and once we hit the ever more pervasive Black Friday at the end of November, we’ll wonder will it every let up. It is increasingly impossible to avoid the hype of this Black Friday every year, and the constant temptations all packaged in the once in a lifetime opportunity to save, save, save. A good bargain on something you really need or want is a great thing; but all the hype can create desires and needs we didn’t even know we had. This can be especially true for children who haven’t fully learned to distinguish between what they want and what they need and may not fully understand the value (and the limitations) of money.
So, while Black Friday will be everywhere, that other American tradition at the end of November, Thanksgiving, is increasingly less visible. Spending time with people that we love (or are at least related to), reaching out to those who may be alone or in need and really focusing on the good things in our life is much more likely to bring us happiness than rushing around shops buying lots of things. So, how do we instil this sense of gratitude in our children, especially as we head in to the busiest shopping season of the year?
- Count your Blessings. Spend a few minutes each day talking with your children about what you are both grateful for. This may include their new PS5, but ask them to think about other things such as your family, a warm house, a special friend, the chance to take music lessons, a kind teacher…
- Model gratitude. Practice expressing gratitude yourself and catch yourself if you are focusing on the negative or things that you don’t have. This doesn’t mean ignoring the real problems or challenges that you may be facing-it just means telling your children regularly how grateful you are to have them in your life and noticing the positive things
- Let Your child give something back. Whether this is giving money to charity, participating in a toy appeal, visiting neighbours or giving your time to support a good cause, let your child understand that they are part of a wider family and community and that they have important contributions to make. Let them experience the real and lasting joy that giving can bring
- Manage expectations. Make sure that your child knows that a Santa list is a wish list—it doesn’t mean that Santa will bring them Start a conversation about what your child really wants and why—this will help them figure out those things that are important to them
- Focus on experiences rather than things. Of course there will be presents, but the things that children will really remember are the special things that you all did together as a family. Create some special traditions in the run-up to the holidays—these don’t have to cost much or anything at all: hot chocolate and a special Christmas movie, an evening walk to look at the lights, special music and food as you decorate the tree; the possibilities are endless.
This article was contributed a member of Parenting Limerick.