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How to have appreciative children

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As parents we so often complain about this don't we? We feel that children have so much and they just don't appreciate it. There is a lot of evidence to say that the more they have, the less appreciative they are. This is especially hard at this time of year when all the messages around children are about what they can ‘get’ for Christmas more than what they can give. We all love to see the joy on their faces as they open presents but be aware how often the excitement is short-lived and the toys get broken or cast aside.

Interesting from Lawrence Kutner, psychologist who says

'Many commercials show a child playing with a game or toy with her parents. The message is clear to young children: Ask for this product and your mother and father will pay attention to you. It is an offer they cannot resist."

So what are 7 ways we can help children be more appreciative of what they have got?

  1. Go through their toys and see if there are some things that can be fixed or cleaned up rather than replaced– maybe they need a new battery? Could you search for the missing piece? Remind them of how keen they were to be given the toy – not in a guilt-inducing way, just as a reminder and that fixing it is so much better for the environment too.
  2. Make a list of people who they want to give presents to to emphasise the importance of giving.
  3. Think of things that you could make instead of buy for others. Things like cupcakes, chocolate chip cookies, a special ‘book’ for the person with some photos stuck in.
  4. Have gratitude discussions around the table. Each person gets to say three things they are grateful for. Also discuss the rush we get when we get a present and that it doesn't always last for long. 
  5. Hard as it is – your time is a great gift. It is so often in short supply as we get in a frenzy of shopping and preparing for the holiday season. See what time you can claw back and when you do spend time, talk about how you are showing your love by giving your child time and attention.
  6. Is there an elderly care home you could visit with gifts or make a collection for children in need? It really helps children understand how little others have.
  7. Maybe you need to cut back on some of the things they are taking for granted – we often slip into buying food and drink ‘treats’ outside of the house that might not be completely necessary. The more frequently they get this sort of thing, the more they take it for granted.