Inside: Use this gratitude role playing game and free printables to help kids be more grateful when they open Christmas gifts or birthday gifts
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… December is almost upon us and with that comes all the lights and trees and music.
And of course, the gifts.
But with the gifts, parents often worry their kids aren’t grateful for what they receive. They worry they will get the gimmes or be unintentionally rude when opening presents. And this is just as true for the December holidays as it is for birthday gifts.
One way to combat the gimmes is by focusing on giving to others.
We do that with one of our favorite Christmas traditions that focus on giving to siblings and by using this I Want/I Give Printable.
And we intentionally focus on gratitude and being thankful for what we do receive.
One of our favorite ways to teach gratitude for gifts is with The Fork Game. It’s perfect for preschoolers and school-age children because it helps them realize they can be grateful for all gifts…even the ones they don’t love.
Why Gratitude is Essential
Research has shown us time and time again that grateful people are happier people.
When we take the time to appreciate the world around us and what we have, we focus on the things that really matter.
We focus on our family. We focus on our health. We focus on the fact we are where we are and can take a deep breath in.
Our kids are no different.
When children take the time to focus on what they’re thankful for, they will have more positive moments in their days. More reasons to find internal happiness. More reasons to feel love and peace and mindfulness.
And kids who are satisfied and happy with what they have and don’t constantly search for more or need to have more or wish they had more will feel more content. More joy. Even more happiness.
Related: How to Help an Unhappy Child Find Happiness (Hint: It’s Gratitude!!!)
And in turn, grateful kids will lead happier lives. They’ll spread that happiness and joy to others. So raising grateful kids will, in turn, make them kinder people.
And our kids will be kind to others because they already feel fulfilled and as if they have enough in their own lives that they can share it with those around them.
You can use gratitude journals like this one and write down three things we’re grateful for each day.
Or you can do these Gratitude Activities with them:
And we use this Thank you for the Fork Gratitude Role Playing Game.
How to Use the Fork Gratitude Role Playing Game
1. Print out the Thank You For the Fork Gratitude Role Playing Game on cardstock and cut them apart or keep them on a sheet for your reference (download it below).
2. Explain that you’re going to play a game to get them ready for opening presents and that no matter what gift they get, they can show gratitude/thankfulness for the gift because it came from someone who was being thoughtful.
3. Remind them they might get a gift they don’t like. They might get a gift they don’t understand. They might get a gift they already have. They might get a gift instead of the one they really wanted. But…they can still be thankful for the gift they received.
4. To play the “Fork Game,” offer your child something simple like a fork. Tell them they’re going to pretend they just opened a present (Christmas, Hanukkah, birthday, etc.) and they are going to practice being grateful for the present.
4. They are going to say, “Thank you for the fork” and then they’re going to come up with one way they can use the fork or why they’re happy they got the fork.
They can say things like, “I can use this to eat my mac n cheese,” or “Now my fingers won’t get sticky when I eat my watermelon.” They do not need to say things like, “I love it” or “I always wanted this” or “I can’t wait to use this.”
Encourage them to speak truthful, but still heartfelt statements.
5. Practice handing them different random things or use the printed cards. Families can play the “game” while you’re waiting in restaurants or doctor appointments by handing them random things you see around you like salt shakers or a chair or a napkin.
Educators can play this game during morning meetings or while you’re waiting for the bell to ring.
6. Continue the game until you are confident your child is ready to show gratitude during gift opening moments.