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Gift Giving 101

As the saying goes, it’s better to give than receive. But not all kids would agree! Just as you want to instill a sense of giving back at this time of year, it’s also important to teach your children how to give to those close to them.

This helps your child understand that they have a role in the family. It helps build more independence and responsibility over time. And your child practices perspective taking, trying to understand what someone else would like and what is important to others.

There are many ways to get your child involved. Here are a few:

  • Have kids help wrap or decorate gift tags. But don’t expect perfection! Let their creative side reign. Who cares if the bow doesn’t match or the card is shedding glitter! Enjoy it and they will too.
  • Have kids make homemade cards and gifts. Use easy crafts and keep the list manageable.
  • Create a checklist of people your child wants to give gifts to (and maybe encourage one or two that were forgotten!). Go to a dollar store and let your child pick out the gift for each person and then check them off the list. If they can help wrap the gifts, great, but if not, let them write their name or decorate the gift tag so they know who gets each present.
  • As your child gets older, have them use their own money (allowance or birthday money) to buy for some people on their list. This gives them a sense of responsibility and pride.
  • Remind your child of some of the rules of gift giving – don’t tell the recipients what the gift is before they open it, don’t announce what the gift costs, say “you’re welcome” or talk about why the gift was chosen for this person, and don’t expect a gift in return – giving is a selfless act and it’s ok to give without getting something back.
  • If your child has spent time, creative energy and possibly his/her own money on a gift, make sure there is time for recipients to give enough attention to opening the gift. Their attention, praise, and gratitude will go a long way in reinforcing that it truly is better to give than receive!

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Anna Johnson, Head of School at The Wolf School, is a devoted, passionate educator with more than 17 years of classroom and leadership experience. She holds a BA and MAT from Brown University and speaks locally and nationally on topics related to Complex Learners.

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