Saturday, December 17, 2011

Teaching Gratitude and Graciousness

As parents the greatest gift we can give our children is the ability to navigate successfully through life. One of the best ways to do this is to teach them to be grateful. Practicing gratitude daily has many benefits but at this time of year we focus more on giving and receiving presents.

Jimmy Kimmel asked parents to play a trick on their children. The parents were to give their children an early Christmas gift. The twist was that the gift had to be something the children would never want. Then the parents video-taped their offspring opening said presents and posted them on YouTube.

Some parents wrapped up half-eaten sandwiches and rotten bananas. I enjoyed watching the little girl open the carton of six eggs and then proceed to crack open an egg. The child who got the rotten banana actually started eating it, peel and all.

Most of it made me laugh out loud but there were two clips that disturbed me. One was the boy in the red striped sweater. He has some anger management issues, I think. The fact that he was allowed to attack his parents bothered me as well. That was bad enough, but the last clip was over the top. The comment made by the young boy about what Santa could do was quite rude. Those parents get no “Parent of the Year Award” in my book. Apparently that language is considered acceptable in that household. I found it vulgar and disgusting especially to be uttered by what appears to be a ten-year old.

See for yourself. CLICK HERE to watch. Oh, and if you read the comments below the video, some of them are quite vulgar as well. (Just my humble opinion)

In addition to being grateful, perhaps we should also teach graciousness. When preparing my children to attend family gatherings, we discussed opening “Aunt Claire” gifts. My husband’s godmother, Aunt Claire, often gave gifts that weren’t quite what he wanted, like the year he received the cowboy hat. Still, he said thank you and even wore it for a short time. Then it was relegated to the back of the closet for all eternity.

Gifts are not so much about the recipient as the giver. There is a great article from USAToday about this very subject. CLICK HERE to read it.

The bottom line is that when you open a gift, even if it’s not something you like, it’s important to smile and thank the giver. It’s more about their thoughtfulness, time, and efforts.  Teaching this to children is key to avoiding social gaffes and possible embarrassment.  A polite, well behaved, gracious child is a gift not only to you and anyone your child encounters, but to your child as well.

Has your child ever reacted in a not-so-appropriate manner when they opened a gift?  Leave me a comment.  I'd love to hear about it.

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