How to teach your children to value the presents they receive
We’re getting closer to that time of the year where everything takes on a halo of magic and for the little ones the keyword is presents. There is the first letter where they meticulously list the presents that they would like to receive and then it’s just a matter of waiting for Christmas Day, when they can unwrap the longed-for toy car and the doll that you saw together at the supermarket. It is a very important moment for your children and your families to build some unforgettable memories, and parents play a very important role.
Very often grandparents, parents and friends, bring bags full of presents for the little ones that they often unwrap and simply put aside without even saying thank you. This might be not only awkward for the parents knowing that the person giving the gift is only too aware that the children are little so they will thank them for the present instead of the child, but it will create a mechanism where the children will start taking presents they are given for granted.
So, it is important to teach the value of presents from the beginning, to make sure that children can grow up giving the right importance to what they receive. It seems very difficult, but children, especially in the early years, base themselves on what they are taught. How do we do it? Show them the difference between a gift and a present.
Even if they are usually thought of as synonyms, the difference is subtle but fundamental. A present is strictly connected to the concept of exchange while the gift is something that is simply given to show care and affection. Often, during Christmas time, for children, what they are receiving seems one-way and so they might feel like it’s a moment where without giving anything they receive toys and new clothes. To make them understand that Christmas is the time for generosity and exchanging presents, a good activity could be taking your children with you when you go Christmas shopping. Let them come with you and openly ask them what they would like to get for grandparents, uncles, aunties and other members of the family, it will be a chance to help them understand how to be kind to other people. At the same time, another very important teaching emerges: that of waiting.
Children are used to immediacy. They can get what they want instantly. Obviously, it is a great opportunity for them and for the future, but it is fundamental to teach them the pleasure of waiting. Writing the letter and waiting for Christmas to unwrap the presents is in itself already a great lesson, but that also goes for buying some presents for mum, wrapping them, and waiting for the recipient to receive them and happily thank the child.
Waiting also allows your children to ponder their choices. Every mother would like to see their children always happy and able to fulfil all of their desires but sometimes we have to say no. To start with, it may well be followed by crying or even a tantrum, but in the future, they will understand that it is for their own good and it will teach them a great life lesson. A good exercise for mothers to do together with their children, is to write the letter following an order of priorities. It is right that your children understand that they won’t receive all of the presents they asked for, and so they have to make a choice of what will make their eyes sparkle and what can be left out. The list can be made over a few days. This will allow you to instantly cancel the requests that have been influenced by the last ad on tv or by what their friends told them. Leaving them a few days, will not only show what they are really interested in but they will also be able to understand why they prefer one toy compared to another. It is also good to teach them that a present is not just a shiny box that you can get straight from the shopping centre but it could also be a fabric bag embroidered by mum.
For mothers, a gift is often synonym for affection. It is a way of telling your children how much you love them, but you also have to remember that requests are fleeting and are not the presents that represent love. When they grow up, they won’t remember all the presents that they received for Christmas, except for the very special ones, but they will remember the moments spent together. So mothers, spend time with them, wrap presents together and create unforgettable memories in your children’s minds because the best gifts that they will surely always remember are without doubt, memories.