This year, my friends and family won't be getting any thank you cards for the Christmas presents they gave my kids. It's not because I don't appreciate what their thoughtfulness or because I'm overwhelmed, or even because after years of typing almost exclusively, my handwriting has slid into the state of barely legible. No, we won't be sending cards in the mail (sorry, USPS. I'd feel a bit worse about this if you hadn't lost the present I sent my in-laws this year). This year, I'm making my directorial debut, as I lead my young children in a series of videos, thanking everyone for their gifts.
A couple of weeks ago I was talking with a friend about how to teach kids gratitude. How to get them to a point where they appreciate each gift they receive and not slide into that " gimme, gimme, gimme," mode. My friend gave me a great suggestion -- rather than me write out thank you cards for my kids (who at 4 and 2 1/2 are too young to write cards themselves), take a video of the kids, with their gifts, and have them thank the person for the gift and tell them what they like about the present.
Not only is this good training for getting kids involved in the formal "thank you" process, but it makes them go back and contemplate each gift they received and think about the person who gave it to them. So, we've started doing it (which is incredibly easy with a smartphone) and emailing the videos off to everyone. So far, people seem to appreciate it. They seem to enjoy seeing the kids playing with and holding the gifts they received.
When it comes to gratitude and good manners, there is no one silver bullet, that will instantly teach them to appreciate that which they have. Instead, it's a matter of employing a variety of techniques and messages that will all, hopefully, teach them how fortunate they are and help them to be grateful for all which they've been given. I think these video thank you's are one, helpful, step in that process.