Giving Gifts From The Heart - Teach Your Kids Kindness and AppreciationDec 16, 2021
This time of year, do you find that your kids are highly focused on everything that they want? It’s an exciting time of year for many children, but as a parent are you concerned about getting your kids to think about giving as much as receiving?
This came up in a recent coaching session with a client as her son is all caught up in what he wants right now. And for some families that have multiple sets of parents or grandparents — as well as aunts and uncles all giving gifts, kids can get everything they could possibly want.
As a parent, my client wants to make sure that she is raising her kids with the right values and that they don’t take all of this for granted. She wants them to learn gratitude and appreciation. She’s not alone, this is a concern for many parents.
Most kids tend to associate gifts with things that you can buy. They think of a present as a physical gift wrapped up with a bow that you might give for Christmas or a birthday.
But what if we were more intentional about teaching our kids that you can give and receive “gifts” that you don’t have to buy, and that these kinds of gifts from the heart might mean more to someone than any purchased gift?
What are some possible gifts from the heart that our kids could give?
They might be…
Asking the kid that’s always alone on the playground to join in the game.
Smiling at the shy girl and telling her that she looks pretty in that sweater.
Looking the lunch lady in the eye to say thank you and have a nice day.
Asking your teacher good morning, how are you? And stopping long enough to really hear the answer so she knows that you’re listening.
A hug for a frazzled parent, or helping to clear dishes after dinner without being asked.
There are all sorts of gifts from the heart that our kids can give, they just need to be taught how and then keep it top of mind. You can do this by making this next week the time of giving. Talk to your kids about the concept, and then each night at dinner or before bed, ask them what gift they shared or received that day. If they know that they are going to be asked, they will work to remember and come up with something to share.
To bring it to the next level, you can ask your child how giving or receiving the gift made them feel, and how they think it made the other person feel. Bringing attention to how they felt about giving, and how they thought the other person felt helps your child develop the skill of empathy.
Did you know that empathy is a skill that we can help our children develop and as a parent you can help raise your child’s emotional intelligence? Research has shown that talking to your children about emotions and how other people are feeling promotes kind behavior in kids.
The other benefit about talking to your kids daily about gifts from the heart is that their brain will start to filter for it. In my post on The #1 Thing to Teach Your Kids, I introduced you to your Reticular Activating System. This is our internal filter that sorts through all of the data coming at us based on what we tell ourselves and what we focus on. When you help your kids focus on how they can both give and receive gifts from the heart, they start filtering for and noticing more opportunities they can give as well as what gifts they receive.
This is also an opportunity for you to get your filter set up to focus on what gifts are in your life as well. As parents, we can tend to get caught up in how much we have to do this time of year — so our filter will continue to just show us what has to be done. If we start focusing on looking for the gifts of the season, we will start being more aware and present to them. They’re already there, you just need to look for them.
If you are struggling and caught up in all of your to-do’s, I have a gift for you! I am sharing my client worksheet on how to make time for what matters most without doing more, and you can get it at melpeirce.com/manageyourlists
Teaching kids about appreciation and empathy are some of the tools in my Parenting Toolbox that I share with parents when they are ready to start becoming a Parent Coach, so they can raise more resilient, confident, and emotionally intelligent kids. I hope that you will teach this to your kids too so we can start building a new emotionally healthy and happy generation from the ground up!
Kids don’t come with a Parenting Manual, and parenting in the 21st Century is so different than it was for our parents. That’s where I come in! I share the latest research and strategies, and I teach parents to keep their cool and communicate better so they can effectively navigate the challenges of modern parenting. If you want to learn more about Parenting on Purpose and check out the free resources that I have developed to help parents, go to melpeirce.com and check out Inspirations and Resources.
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