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#AskAlyson: The Art of Gratitude for Unwanted Gifts!

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Hello Alyson


I don’t have a polite way to say this – but my son is rude and ungrateful.  I am cringing thinking about what to do when my family is here for Christmas.  I just know his grandparents are going to give him gifts that he won’t like or want.  My fear is he will scowl and toss them to the ground.  How should I handle this situation in front of my family?  BTW, he is 7 years old – not 2! (though he acts like it!!)





Dear Anonymous,


There is a lot to be done to help kids learn to be grateful, but we only have a few short weeks before this holiday episode is bound to unfold.  Still, I have three fast pieces of advice:


  • Start getting him involved in giving to others. That could be making / buying gifts for others, but it could also be helping by passing out napkins, wrapping gifts or any other age appropriate ways of helping out around the holidays.   This starts him thinking about how we all give and take in a family, not just “take take take” “what’s in it for me?” thinking.  It feels good to be the giver!  Let him experience that.
  • Discuss that gift giving is an expression of love and caring. Even if you don’t like the gift, it was someone’s best guess at what you might like, and even if they got it wrong, we don’t want to hurt their feelings by rejecting the gift.  Help him to practice and rehearse polite ways to say “thank you”.
  • If he acts rudely at Christmas, swiftly but quietly take him by the hand and move to another room for a private conversation. Simply state that he needs to use his manners if he would like to participate in the gift exchange with everyone else, and if he can’t manage that, then he can be excused to entertain himself until he feels more sociable.  When he can be polite he is welcome back.


Happy Parenting



About Alyson

Alyson has been blogging parenting advice for over 15 years. She has been a panelist at BlogWest, Blissdom, #140NYC and more. Her content appears on sites across Canada and the US, but you can read all her own blog posts right here.

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