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Monday, April 30, 2007

Should small children give gifts?

Many parents have the mistaken idea that a child's personality will determine his ability to be thankful. Thoughtfulness and kindness are NOT genetic traits. A child must be taught to be grateful.

Even before a child can speak "YOU" should begin the path to manners by saying "Thank You" and "Please" whenever you can. As soon as they can baby talk, begin requiring at least an attempt at please before responding to their requests. As soon as they can sit up and grasp an item, you can purchase Mommy's present, wrap it and then allow your child to at least hand it to her when it's time.

Daily reinforce giving with a quick game of give and take. When your child is playing with a toy simply say, "May I please have that toy? Thank you." Hug it and immediately return it to the child. This will reinforce the action of letting go of something they want or like.

By 18 months you should be able to begin talking with your child about how special it is to give gifts to others. Take your child to help purchase Daddy's gift and guide him in making a reasonable choice.

At age three your child should be required to purchase, wrap and be totally involved in gift giving. Stress the importance of the thought rather than than the money spent. Don't take little Johnny to buy Daddy a new TV for his birthday. Instead, give him two dollars and guide him through the process. Help him understand that Daddy needs candy for his desk at work. Help him pick out packages of gum or bags of candy. In other words, let him experience gift giving on his level rather than on your level with your finances. A huge plus would be to also insist that he do some chore to earn the money!

It is also important that he learn to give of himself by making the card. There were some years that my children not only made the card but the gift as well. They liked to make coupons. The coupons were as simple as bringing Daddy a cold glass of water or helping him pick up sticks in the yard. The coupons were always something the children could easily do but would be helpful to Ron.

Daddy needs to be very careful about expressing his gratitude. He needs to let his child know that many people are enjoying his candy or how many times a day he thinks of his son while eating the candy. It is a must that Daddy remembers to use the coupons. This will reinforce the joy of giving all year long.

REMEMBER: Your child will only be thoughtful if you are a thoughtful person. It's very difficult to teach something to your child when they don't see it practiced at home.

When children are taught how to give and be thankful, not only will the receivers enjoy the gift but your child will experience contentment and joy.

Mother's Day is May 13th.

God loves you,


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