Teaching Children to Be Grateful

Surviving the Holiday Gift Glut

  • Limit extracurricular giving. Set -- and stick to -- a no-gifts policy with play-date, Sunday-school, or preschool buddies.
  • Take the big day slowly. Instead of one huge gift-grabbing frenzy, have family members open presents one at a time. "You can make it a little ritual, with all eyes on the person opening the gift," says Ryan. "That way, you have a few moments for appreciation built in."
  • Stash 'em. Put half of the gifts away (out-of-town relatives won't know, and neither will your preschooler) and dole them out as rainy day surprises throughout the year.
  • Downplay the presents. Put more emphasis on celebrating -- making cookies, attending church, decorating the tree, lighting the menorah, visiting relatives.
  • Take them shopping. For other family members, that is. Even better, have them create homemade gifts -- even if it's a crayon drawing. Children get immense pleasure out of giving gifts and seeing you express gratitude to them.

Charlotte Latvala, a mother of three, lives in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2005.

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