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Raising an appreciative child

The holiday season is almost upon us and it’s easy for our children to be smitten with the magic of Christmas, from extra sweets and Christmas treats, Christmas nativities and singing Christmas songs at school, to a naughty elf on the shelf having fun at home!

However, the commercialisation of Christmas has left our Western World with children constantly wanting new toys, gadgets and devices and Christmas lists growing longer and longer each year.

For parents, raising a child that appreciates this festive season for more than just the receiving of gifts, is becoming more and more of a challenge.

We believe, here at SPR Juniors, that most parents have already started teaching their child to appreciate gifting from a really early age. Basic manners, saying please and thank you and writing thank you cards to family and friends after birthdays and Christmas, are the foundation for fostering appreciation.

Here are some other ways to help nurture and develop your children’s gratitude as they grow:-

Build on the basics

While our tendency as parents is to give our children the best possible life; by letting them have anything they ask for, whenever they ask, we are not giving them the tools to be able to learn any kind of gratitude.

Each child needs to learn the reason behind a gift; whether it is a reward for good behaviour, a great school report or a birthday, there needs to be some meaning behind it. The key here is to make sure your child knows why they are getting a gift to understand and feel appreciation.

For example, if you are out shopping and your child sees something they want and you are constantly saying yes, it can create little or no appreciation from the child as there is no meaning.

It’s better to give than receive

Did you know that giving is scientifically proven to release endorphins and dopamine within your brain making people feel much happier when giving a present rather than receiving one!

This well-known phrase has never been more important for the youngsters of today. Try to encourage your child to gift an old toy to a charitable cause or make a gift or card for their favourite teacher to say thank you. This way, you are not only empowering your child to take control of their own happiness but helping them learn the ‘feeling’ of giving.


What child wants to share their new toy; bar of chocolate or anything else for that matter with their sibling – none I hear you say? By forcing them to share, you can almost encourage the negative effect of giving.

A better way for them to learn about sharing is to share family stories and memories to help your children appreciate things that aren’t obvious, including each other. Make sure your children acknowledge each other’s differences, talents and abilities and use their individual strengths to support each other. For example, if you praise and thank your teenager for reading to their younger sibling, they will begin to see themselves as helpful and caring.

Top Tip: By giving them opportunities to care and share, solve problems collaboratively and simply play together, you are helping them develop these important social skills and a sense of appreciation of other people that they can take into their adult life.

Teach your children their past: share stories from their grandparents and great grandparents

Family history is a wonderful place to start teaching children to appreciate all the things we enjoy today. Most of us have stories about how our grandparents or great grandparents grew up and how life was in the days before mobile telephones, central heating, televisions, computers and even cars.

If grandparents or great grandparents are still able to tell their stories, there is no better person to hear them from. Take the time to visit and hear the tales of their lives and the things they have experienced.

Your children will appreciate the differences between the worlds of past generations and will learn and treasure these stories. Nothing is more meaningful and treasured than a story told by a loved one.

Set the tone

Let your children know that gifts from the heart are priceless.  For example, baking cookies together can be more precious to give to family and friends at Christmas than a shop bought item. Getting creative in the kitchen together with some Christmas tunes on adds to the family festive fun!

Get festive and make some memories

Spend time decorating the tree together as a family (you can rearrange it when they have gone to bed). Let them have their very own tree to decorate and spend time making decorations together as a family.

Your child will remember the times you spent together, such as the skating trip and the visit to Santa when they are older but they probably won’t remember the present you bought them when they were little.

Avoid the get, get, get all the time!

Passive consumerism is where parents forget that even the little £1 gifts on a regular basis, means your child will expect new things all the time. It also means they will expect much more on special occasions like Christmas.

This can be a major factor in children not appreciating what they have because the ante is always being upped. Most parents don’t realise that this almost subconscious string of purchases will have a lasting impact on their children’s expectations.

Be the shining example

Children are a long term investment and you rarely see the results of your hard work immediately. Keep at it and your work will pay dividends in the long run.  Remember, you are their biggest influence and you are continually teaching them! So always be grateful and appreciative and your children will follow your shining example.

SPR Juniors Programme is a highly active P.E lesson resource pack containing video and lesson plan resources that allow staff to deliver high quality Physical Education at the push of a button.

The programme for SPR Juniors is designed to offer each primary school a balanced education programme focusing on nutrition, fitness and mindset delivering Strong Powerful Resilient Juniors! Primarily, the programme provides progressive P.E. lessons for years 3 to 6 which help children improve their core fitness and develop motor skills that will underpin their sporting performance.

Each school has access to our SPR Junior Resource Centre. This is an online library for teachers to access nutritional guidance to support their curriculum plus it includes fun goals and milestones for pupils to reach that will support their nutritional awareness. These resources are designed to be used as part of the weekly parent newsletter. They help parents understand, in more depth, what their children are learning in relation to nutrition and fitness and give them the core information on how to encourage their children to continue their SPR Junior’s programme at home!

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