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HOW TO: 4 Tips on teaching your kids to be more grateful

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HOW TO: 4 Tips on teaching your kids to be more grateful

With Thanksgiving coming up at the end of this month, I naturally begin to think more and more about gratitude and the role it plays in my family. We have striven to teach our kids to appreciate what they have and be generous with others.

Thanksgiving Turkey

I’m constantly amazed at the similarities and differences between our girls. The oldest is better about saying “please” and the youngest is better about saying “thank you.”

I want to share a few things that we have learned that will hopefully help you teach your kids to be more grateful.

Lead by example

The number one way kids learn from you is by observing how you act, not by listening to what you say. That’s why I love the lyrics to the country song Watching you by Rodney Atkins. If you want grateful children, then you must first have a healthy attitude of gratitude yourself. To quote another country song (now you know what I listen to), “Be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse I love you.” I think this country world would be a significantly better place if we all were to overuse phrases like “Thank you” and “I love you.” And isn’t that what we are really saying when we are generous with others? We are saying “thank you” to whatever Creator you believe in for what we have and “I love you” to the person you are giving to. Let your children observe those habits in you first and foremost.

When giving, involve your children

My kids have too many toys. So every month or two, my wife goes through the toy box and dejunks. We then donate the toys either to neighbors of less means or to our local second hand store. What we have learned is that we need to involve our kids in this process for several reasons.

  • They don’t wonder where their toys have gone if they saw them given away.
  • We let them do the giving to neighbors. This is especially important if our girls play with the neighbors. We have given away our girls’ toys without them knowing and that later created confusion when they saw the neighbors playing with the toys. But more importantly, it gives our kids the opportunity to help their peers and see the joy that giving brings to the lives of their peers.
  • When donating to an organization where our kids will not have the opportunity to see the people who benefit from the donations, we always make sure to tell them, “We need to give this toy to another little girl who doesn’t have any toys. She’s your friend. Can you help her?” By phrasing it as a question, we allow our children to make the decision to give.

By now, you are probably wondering why I’m talking so much about giving in a post about gratitude. I believe that giving and gratitude are almost synonymous. Why would I give if I weren’t grateful and how could I be grateful if I didn’t give? Consider Ebenezer Scrooge for a moment. Once transformed, he expressed his gratitude to the spirits by giving “in word and deed” every day for the rest of his days. In fact, the name Ebenezer is biblical and means gratitude.

Reward gratitude with additional privileges and responsibilities

As I put my girls down for bed Halloween night this year, my three year old said to me, “Thank you daddy for taking us trick-or-treating.” That simple statement immediately warmed my heart. She demonstrated responsibility, maturity and gratitude in that moment. As a result, she has earned additional trust and willingness on my part to extend privileges and responsibilities to her. I am more willing to indulge her in certain areas such as getting to go trick-or-treating. Notice that I said “getting to go.” Participating in holiday festivities, especially ones that involve large amounts of sugar, are privileges, not rights. So as our kids show gratitude for the privileges afforded them, we reward them with additional privileges. It’s a cyclical process that, once rolling, can be a very powerful teacher and motivator.

Last, do not over-indulge your children

One of the biggest mistakes that I see parents making, for several reasons, is over-indulgence. How do you expect your kids to appreciate anything when they get everything? Let them learn to enjoy and appreciate what they have. In fact, what we do each year after Christmas is sort through all of the presents our girls received and put most of them away in our closet. We let them play with a few toys for either weeks or months, have them donate those toys and then we pull down several new items from the stash. This way, our girls have the opportunity to receive new toys throughout the year for good behavior and the opportunity to continuously donate toys to others. Similar to what I said before, toys are a privilege that is earned not a right. All too often, rights go unappreciated whereas privileges earned are cherished.

Ultimately, our children have to choose to be grateful. But we have the opportunity to give them habits and experiences that greatly encourage an attitude of gratitude.

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5 Cheap Halloween Costume ideas for when you’re on a tight budget

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5 Cheap Halloween Costume ideas for when you’re on a tight budget

Halloween Pumpkin

Happy Halloween! I hope you have something fun and safe planned for tonight. Many of you are probably like us and are trying to save a few dollars as we head into the Christmas season. As much as I enjoy each holiday, I often feel frustrated that it seems like holidays demand extra expenditures.

Halloween can definitely get expensive after buying decorations, costumes for the whole family, food for parties and treats for the trick-or-treaters. Personally, I’d like to celebrate holidays in a less expensive style.

Maybe that makes me a Scrooge (oops, wrong holiday), but maybe it doesn’t have to. A little creativity can go a long way. Our two girls are still pretty young, so they are pretty easily satisfied. Here are some Halloween costume ideas for creating something fun without much expense.

Open up the dress-up box

Wearing a costume that the kids already have and play with may not be the most exciting Halloween costumer, but it saves a lot of money. Using what you already have is also a great way to teach your kids to be frugal. Just because it’s a holiday, doesn’t mean that you have to start spending money. We can be content with what we already have.

Also, a little bit of make-up can take an ordinary costume and transform it into something new and exciting. For example, a princess or cowboy outfit with some white face paint and a little bit of red for blood turns your kids into the undead. So consider spending a little money on some make-up and then just use what you already have.

School and sports uniforms

This is kind of like opening up the dress-up box for teenagers. If your older kids are on any type of sports team (including cheerleading), then there’s your costume right there. I’ve seen football players dress up their uniform with just a crazy wig.

Borrow outfits from the neighbors

This money saving technique is one of my favorites. In part, because it works for almost any age. My oldest loves to be a kitty for Halloween (and just about any other day that we let her dawn the outfit). What’s great is that we got the outfit from a neighbor. In our case, we had originally just borrowed it, but they later said we could just keep it.

As a teenager, I borrowed my neighbor’s fatigues for two or three years in a row. Even as a teenager or adult, many of your friends or neighbors may have outfits that you can borrow. So don’t make shopping for a new costume at a store your first choice. Try shopping at your friend’s house first.

Hit the second hand stores

I’ll admit, I don’t care for shopping at second hand stores too much. It’s probably an ego thing. But for an outfit that I’m going to wear just once a year, hello thrift stores! What’s even better is that I usually donate the clothes right back to the store afterwards. So I tell myself that I’m actually spending a few dollars on charity.

Start sewing

If you own a sewing machine, then you can really get creative. But even if you don’t, just a needle and some thread can go a long way. For example, that kitty outfit that we borrowed from our neighbor was just a black leotard with a black cat tail stitched to the back. The mother had quickly and easily done it herself.

Make-up can be the only thing you buy

You are probably noticing a theme by now – just be creative. Usually, if you use some pieces of a costume that you already own, borrow something from a neighbor and spend a little money on make-up, then you can put together a great costume that your kids will love. And little kids often like going as the same thing each year. The make-up kit that we bought has lasted us two Halloweens so far.

Let me know in the comments other ways that you have saved money around Halloween time.

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