Christmastime is a great time for sharing and giving, but often the sharing and giving is overwhelming for kids. And when kids are overwhelmed, they often forget manners or to show gratitude. In this season of family and happiness, manners and gratitude are important to express. Here are 5 tips for helping kids understand and say thank you at Christmastime.

Lead by example

Children follow their parents’ example. If the parents show gratitude and say “thank you,” then the kids will see this and act by example. Constantly reminding your kids to say “thank you” will not go over well, but by saying “thank you” in their presence will show them the act is important.

They need to know

Kids need to know the meaning of “thank you.” Many kids think it is a term that means “I like this”, or they use it as a saying of “this gift is cool.” Explain to them that thank you actually means, “I appreciate what you did for me.” The difference is in understanding that the thought and effort that someone put in to giving a gift is what counts. What the gift is does not matter; it’s the fact that the recipient was thought of well enough to be given a gift from someone in the first place.

Emphasize the emotion

Talk to your kids about how they feel when something special they have done is noticed. Then ask your kids how they feel when they do something special and no one recognizes it. Did they feel sad? Why? Let them connect these feelings to how they would respond to someone who does something nice for them. These emotion need connections are important to have them understand why they should say “thank you.”

No surprises

Let your kids in on what will happen at a party or family gathering. Giving kids a heads up that gifts will be shared or involving them in the itinerary will prepare them for what to expect so they won’t miss their cue for gratitude. Kids who are prepared for situations like these are less likely to be shy and will mind their manners.

Practice saying “thank you” to the giver

Teach your kids that the giver is more important than the gift. Reminding kids  that the person giving the gift cares for them will make it more meaningful to say “thank you.”A simple gesture to practice without prompting or acting will prepare the child for accepting the gift. If the child knows the giver, the “thank you” should be heartfelt.

While your children are mastering the art of gratitude, you can also help them learn other life lessons. Read more of our parenting tips for military kids.

Do you have a tip for teaching your kids respect and manners? Leave a post or tell us your story.


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