All the gifts have been opened, the wrapping paper is gone, decorations are packed away, and the kids are back at school. What can you do to start the year off on a good note so your children will feel better and develop good values and habits?
Studies show that kids who are grateful may feel happier and satisfied with what they have in their lives, feel confident, and experience fewer physical maladies.
So how do you go about helping your children feel more gratitude for what they have?
Now, in this post-holiday period, before the Valentines come out and the gifts they loved at Christmas have been forgotten, sit down with your children and help them to write some thank you notes. Oh no, you groan. That sounds like a chore to you and will definitely sound like one to them. Here are some ways to make the experience a fun and creative project for them:
Gather together some note cards, stamps, scissors, glue, watercolors or markers, fancy pens and stickers. Make a list of all those who would enjoy a thank you note. Your list may include not only those who sent a gift to your children but perhaps someone who spent time with them or is a special part of their lives.
Introduce the idea.
Tell your children you have a fun project for them and gather everyone around the table. Show them the supplies you have on hand and show them the list. Ask if they have others who should be a part of the gratitude project. As they work, talk about what they received from the givers and ask what it means for them to be recipients of these gifts of time or presents.
Help with the tough parts.
If your child is still learning to write, offer your help by asking her to tell you the message and you can then transcribe it for her. Let your child create the message with your help so that it is in his or her own words. If your child received a gift that was not a good fit, be sincere about the message and help your child find a way to express appreciation for it anyway by focusing on what he or she did like about the present (favorite color, person was thinking of them).
Involve the kids all the way.
After the notes are written and sealed in envelopes, let them add the stamps and make a visit to the post office a part of the project.
Help them to imagine the response.
In days to come you can wonder along with your children about what response Aunt Addie will have when she goes to the mailbox and finds a note just for her. Talk about how long it might take for the note to arrive and how far it has to travel. You can look at a map if the children are curious about the distance from your home to the recipient’s house.
Continue the process.
When your child receives a gift or card in the future, remind them of the fun it was to create their own thank you cards after Christmas. Encourage them to send notes for other occasions and keep your Thank You box of supplies available to them to do more to show their gratitude.
Tip: Check out this list of 13 Homemade Thank-You Note Ideas from RealSimple magazine:
Author: Virginia Maxfield