How to Teach Your Kids Gift-Receiving Etiquette

Let’s be honest: Not every holiday present is going to elicit the reaction a Hatchimals might. Some will be downright disappointing. But you don’t have to end up in an embarrassing situation, where your little one stands there in stunned silence (or, worse, voices the disappointment out loud). Parent Hacks author Asha Dornfest shares three tips for teaching kids how to graciously receive any gift.

1

Give Them a Script

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Photo by KidStock/Getty Images

Kids are understandably excited about presents—and they can be unfiltered when they get something they don’t like. But if you help them understand the real gift in each package—the effort, thought, and love put into picking it out—you can help them express genuine gratitude. Give her exact language she can use, such as: “Thank you for picking this out for me!” or “Thank you for the gift.” Those are honest expressions of thanks for the gift-giver as much as the present.

2

Help Field the Follow-Up  Questions

If the gift-giver makes an awkward inquiry (“Do you like it?” or “Will you wear it?”) your kid will probably look to you for help, so be prepared with a polite but honest response. Just how honest depends on your relationship to the gift-giver. You can give a vague response that doesn’t actually answer the question but is still somewhat satisfying, like, “It’s such a soft sweater!” Or, if you feel close enough to the gift-giver to ‘fess up, go with something more straightforward. For example: “It’s such a soft sweater, but Jenny’s been wearing bigger-kid styles lately. Would you mind if we exchanged it?”

3

Explain Why ‘Lying’ Is Sometimes Okay 

There are bound to be people who would be hurt by an honest response, so it’s a good idea to tell your kid that in some situations, it’s best to put a person’s feelings before the truth. Explain that a reply of “It’s perfect!” even when you’re not really thinking that is okay when you’re saying it to spare someone’s feelings.