In a month marked by gift-giving, many parents are watching their children open presents…and cringing, wondering what’s going to come out of their kids’ mouths.
Hopefully, older children will have learned already the art of graciously thanking the giver, no matter what’s in the box. But younger children, especially toddlers, have yet to develop that filter. They are completely honest and blurt out what’s on their minds, whether that’s “But I wanted a toy!”, “That’s yuckers,” or even “I don’t like this” (cue sobbing).
Other parents shouldn’t give you too much grief about this—chances are, they’ve witnessed their own little angels creating quite the spectacle from time to time. But there’s no denying that a child’s outburst can easily hurt an adult’s feelings (or devastate another child who has given the gift). And as adults, our role is to guide children to appropriate behavior.
You can help your child by prepping them ahead of time.
• Role play. Have a pretend gift exchange with your child. Bonus points for finding toys and other around-the-house objects and “wrapping” them in a blanket, shirt, etc. Even more bonus parts for making it silly (wrap an old shoe in a pair of shorts? Why not!). Practice appropriate reactions when unwrapping these pretend gifts, and remember the most important part, saying…
• Two words: Thank you. That’s it. That’s all they have to say. Whether they hate the present, whether they already have it, all they should say is, “Thank you!” and move on. No other words necessary. Making eye contact and smiling is a plus. And don't forget to...
• Write a note. It’s never too early to encourage children to write thank-you notes. Homemade cards that feature illegible scribbling or the painstaking efforts of a child’s early autograph can be a keepsake.