Dear Ilana and Jess: My wife and I love to treat our children for Christmas. We shower them with gifts, but after all the presents are unwrapped and the morning rush is gone, they become disengaged and unappreciative. How can we get them to savor the day and show some gratitude next December? — Aaron
Dear Aaron: First, we hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas!
If the kids don’t pace themselves while unwrapping gifts, set the pace for them. You can manage this by creating a rule that, before moving from one gift to the next, the kids must: show the opened gift to you and their sibling(s), say, “thank you,” for it, and wait for your “okay,” before opening the next present.
Once the gifts are opened, involve your kids in the cleanup. Gratitude is best demonstrated through deeds, not words. When you hold your children accountable for throwing away/recycling the wrapping paper, you send the message that they are expected to contribute and are not entitled to anything.
As you celebrate the holiday, have your children help you and your wife in some capacity. Whether you ask them to put away coats, set the table for your guests, or load the dishwasher after dinner, it’s important that your children’s role in the family entails giving, not just receiving.
Next year, consider creating expectations around Christmas gifts. If you aren’t doing so already, have the kids fulfill chores, earn specific grades, and/or complete acts of kindness in order to earn the items on their Christmas lists. When creating these expectations, it’s important to be specific, so that the kids can see the relationship between action and outcome. Of course, you don’t want to spoil the surprise, so you can make the reward collective, for example: “Mom and I really want to reward your hard work this Christmas. This means we want to see you to help around the house and get all A’s and B’s on your report card.” If your kids believe in Santa, you can easily weave him into the equation. Just remind them that, like Mom and Dad, he’s watching!
Say This: “Kids, we want you to really cherish this time and appreciate each of your gifts. So, this year and moving forward, after you open each gift, you’re going to show it to your brother(s)/sister(s), Mom and Dad, and be sure to say, ‘thank you’ for what you’ve received. When we give you the go ahead, you can open your next gift.”
Not That: “You just don’t appreciate anything!”
Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all!
Say This, Not That is based on the work of Cognition Builders: a global, educational company headed by Ilana Kukoff (Founder & CEO) and Jessica Yuppa Huddy (Chief Learning Officer). Everywhere from New York City to California to Shanghai to Zurich, the Cognition Builders team is called upon by A-list entertainers, politicians, CEOs, and CFOs to resolve the conflicts that upend everyday life. When their work is done, the families they serve are stronger than ever. With their new book, Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter Kukoff and Yuppa Huddy have selected the most common conversational mistakes parents make, and fixed them. For more information, please visit: https://cognitionbuilders.com. To purchase Say This, Not That To Your Teenage Daughter visit: http://publishing.andrewsmcmeel.com/books/detail?sku=9781449488055.
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