Sometimes it is really hard for kids to be able to smile and show gratitude when they receive presents that they do not want or like. When I taught preschool, we would play a fun game to teach kids to smile and say, “thank you.” The game helped children get in the habit of saying “thank you” when they received a gift, even if it was something like underwear.
Here is an example. I would ask, “What would you do if you got a tuna sandwich for Christmas?” Of course they would laugh, but then they were to say, “I would say thank you.” I would always try to think of really crazy gift ideas. But no matter how crazy the gift idea was, the children were always to say, “I would say thank you.”
Being silly helped them want to play the game. They learned to say thank you no matter what the gift was. It was also helpful teaching them in a safe and comfortable environment.
I now homeschool my two boys and I have changed how we play the game.
It now involves the boys going to find the strangest item that they can find and wrapping it or putting it in a gift bag. Then they exchange the presents with each other.
The fun of the game is finding a funny and unusual “gift” and seeing if they can throw off the other brother.
The challenge of this new twist is to practice saying thank you without having a shocked look on your face. It also helps kids learn to tell why they are grateful for that item. It is so fun that my kids play over and over again.
I love watching them play it because it is always interesting to see what ideas they can come up with for the usefulness of the item. My older son was once presented an old torn sock during the game. He said, “Wow, thank you! I really needed this so I can make a sock puppet.”