05 August 2010

Appreciation Training

Last week I was talking to my friend Meg and lamenting the fact that certain little people seemed to have missed the concept of showing appreciation for things they recieve.

They are so blessed, and get so much that they take things for granted. And sometimes, instead of, "Ohhhhh thankyou mummy!! Wow, thankyou Daddy!!" for the shiny new bike, we get, "Oh. It's got trainer wheels."

Or... instead of "Wowee mummy, you must have spent hours decorating that beautiful rainbow layer cake... I love it!!" we get, "Oh. I thought it was going to be taller. How many layers does it have??"


Yes. My kid apparently lacks some of the finer social graces. She is too honest. Not good at faking gratitude. She calls it as she sees it. And it grates on me.

Now, some people might say that I should rejoice in the fact that my child has those qualities and that I shouldn't encourage fakery of any sort.
I hear you. But I beg to differ.

People put a lot of effort into giving a gift. Or baking a cake. The last thing you want is some spoilt brat turning up their nose and not having the decency to give a gracious thankyou.
I want my children to appreciate what they have and to be thankful for what they receive. I will not accept any less.

Such was the cause of my disquiet when I spoke to Meg last week.

And she had the coolest idea. Appreciation Training. (That's my name for it anyway.)

Her friend was in the same situation, and she came up with this genius, fun "game" to practise using manners and showing appreciation even when the gift is a little ...odd. Or unexciting.

Here's how it goes...


Find a bunch of completely random objects from around the house. Socks, undies, hairbands, hankies, random toys. The sillier the better.

Wrap them up and put them in a bag.

Mum and dad are the judges. We award effort, enthusiasm and creativity with sweets.

The kids take turns drawing out a random gift. They must...
  • give a convincing thankyou (to mum and dad; hugs and kisses optional but always appreciated)
  • find one good thing to say about the gift (why they like it, it's useful for... etc)
We did this on Friday night after dinner with the eldest two in preparation for Miss Fab's party the next day. Oh it was a riot.

Miss Fab had to find a use and show suitable gratitude for... Spiderman undies.

Dash, a sparkly headband - useful as a sweatband - goodonya mate!

Hugs and kisses and squeals of delight errupted from all corners: "Oh, I needed some socks! Thankyou!!" "Oh this parrot puppet is so cute! I love parrots, they're so colourful!"

It was fun. We all had a good laugh. And they learned something. They learned that they need to think about the giver and show appreciation for the thought, not rate the gift on its coolness and be unbearably rude and bratty. All in a very fun way of course.

(And Miss Fab's squeals of delight as she unwrapped her gifts the next day showed me that she had taken the lesson to heart. She received lovely gifts, not a pair of undies in sight. But she was super duper extra grateful and excited).

Call me old-fashioned but I think good manners and a little bit of appreciation go a long way towards oiling the wheels of life. So what if socks aren't the most exciting present? It's all about the thought. And showing gratitude. And having manners. And not being a greedy spoilt brat.

I'm sure there will be some who read this and think, "Fancy teaching her kids to be fakers! That's terrible!!"
Too bad. They're my kids, and I want them to be polite and appreciative and have manners. Manners and good grace make the world go round.

So if you are like me and want your kids to show good manners even in the face of hankies from Aunty Ethel, give this fun game a go. Appreciation Training. Gotta Love it.

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Helen said...

I think this is a great idea Simone. Awesome in fact. Sometimes us mums need appreciation training too. I have a wacky fish moneybox I used some years ago for my appreciation training. I would put a note of thanks for something that day, no matter how small. It is hilarious to read them now.

Gail said...

a fab idea! We all need a bit of fun appreciation training, one thinks.

Widge said...

Simoney!!!! This is great!!!
It's not about teaching your kids to be "fakers" at all. It's about helping them to develop some good ol EQ! (Emotional intelligence). Learning gratitude goes a major long way in future happiness and I know that so many other parents struggle in this area with their kids too our family included!. we have just discussed this just this week in our Toolbox group.What a neat idea you came up with

meg said...

Yay Simone, glad that it worked so well. Think I'll be doing it again before Christmas!

Sophie said...

oooh i love that idea, sounds like fun!

banban said...

I would never think that teaching a kid to be thankful, no matter what, is teaching a kid to be fake, it's teaching a kid to be polite, graceful and full of appreciation. I love this idea as I too have the same issues with Master 6! And lets not even start on his dinner appreciation skills!!

Weza said...

Fantastic idea. One i would never have thought of, but that I will most def use.

Rebecca said...

Fantastic...love it!!!!!!!!!! Will put it to use here!

Anonymous said...

I love that idea. What fun!

Anonymous said...

Awesome idea! Will definitely file it away for the future!

Dalia - Gen X Mom said...

Great idea! Thanks for sharing. Gonna try this weekend.

Rae Ann said...

I LOVE this idea! We have made a special effort to cut back at gift giving times - we tend to go WAY overboard - so that the kids can actually appreciate what they receive instead of going into gift overload. Appreciation training would take it one step further. Thanks for the idea!

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