Toddlers often lack gracious gift receiving etiquette: saying aloud that they dislike gifts, tossing clothing gifts to the side, or refusing to say "thank you."
Today MrsManners gives us some tips and guidance for teaching and encouraging appropriate responses to presents received from family and friends.
This time of year more than any other, you want to make sure that your child is prepared to receive a gift with grace. This is not an easy thing for any toddler to understand and with the next holiday creeping around the corner, you'll want to address it quickly if you haven't already.
There is really only one way to guide good gift receiving etiquette and that is to talk to your children. If your child is old enough, explain to them that they must say "thank you" for their gifts no matter what they are. You may even be able to continue on by explaining how a gift is something that comes from the heart and how the person who buys it or makes it for them gives the present to them with love. Explain that if they say something like, "I don't like it," it would really hurt the giver's feelings and make them sad, which isn't the way we want to treat people who we love and who love us.
If you have an older toddler, use examples to practice: "Let's say that Aunt Sue's present turns out to be green polka-dotted, white striped, and purple-starred mittens and you really wanted a new game. What do you do?" This is a great time to explain how some people don't have mittens to keep them warm and how lucky your child is that Aunt Sue loves him enough to keep his fingers warm with mittens.
I just taught this want versus need lesson to 65 children, and the sentiment was the same once I explained it to them. They all would be happy to have the mittens. How special they would be! Even though the mittens aren't what they wanted, they might be what they needed. If you have an older child, you can explain that this concept of want versus need is something that will probably be a theme in a lot of homes this year. I know my toddler will be getting a new winter coat this year because he needs one. A new tricycle would be way cooler, but the budget only allows for a new winter coat. Talking about manners with your toddler can be fun and challenging, but they do understand a lot more than we often times give them credit.
If you have a younger child, hopefully the people giving them the presents will be able to understand that oftentimes the box, wrapping paper, and the fun of tearing into a package is as cool as anything in the box. Hopefully, they will not take it personally if the new item is pushed to the side for a new shiny unopened gift. However, I find that at least once a year, it is important to relay this bit of information to someone who may not have kids yet or chose not to have them.
If your toddler is already a talker, make sure that after the wrapping paper has been ripped open and the gifts are all out they go around the room and thank each person one at a time - even if they did it once already.
The best way to ensure people that your child appreciated their gift is to send out a thank you card afterward. Help your toddler write the cards and let them personalize each one the best they can. A thank you card should always include: a greeting to who gave the gift, what the gift was, how thankful your child is to have received it, how they are using the gift or plan to use it, and a signature. I realize that for some, this is very antiquated, but especially if you are talking about grandparents or great grandparents, this is a very important step.
If your child refuses to use proper gift receiving manners after you talk to them, don't be afraid to limit their gift receiving until they are ready to behave in a way that is acceptable.
Here's wishing those of you celebrating a very Merry Christmas and hoping that your toddlers will love and be thankful for every gift they receive - even the ones they need instead of want.
How does your toddler handle receiving gifts?