5 Ways to Teach Kids to Appreciate Experiences Over Things


How many times have you thought Wow, we have a lot of stuff! or said to your kids, “Can’t you just be thankful?”  In a world where everyone is constantly inundated with things, it is difficult to teach children to not only want experiences but also appreciate them. 

Social media, television, or simply keeping up with the Joneses makes it difficult for kids–and adults–to step back and appreciate what is already present. In an attempt to keep everyone in check and make some memories this year, here are five ways to help children appreciate experiences. 

1. Make Cards & Gifts
Kids love being creative when given the opportunity. Have them give the gift of appreciation to a loved one by making a heartfelt card. Bonus if they make a craft to give as well.

Try This –> Use air dry clay to make pottery at home. Or grab some paints and decorate homemade ornaments. Check out these 10 fun ideas from The Spruce Crafts.

2. Donate or Sell Toys & Assess “Stuff”
Sometimes there is just so much stuff in the house that it starts to get overwhelming. Declutter room by room. Have children get involved by donating no longer played with toys. Not only will your house be tidier, but your mind will also be clearer.

Try This –> Help kids sell their toys online and use the money to do an activity as a family-like ice skating, bowling, or go-carts.

3. Model What Appreciation Looks Like
Ask yourself, what makes you happy?  It’s probably not a physical thing, but more an idea or moment that comes to mind. Talk about what you appreciate at the dinner table. That is a great time to be electronic free. Without things to distract, you can dive into a conversation about your day. Use that time to make plans together. Get the kids involved by having them choose an experience they’d like to try.

Try This –> Once your activity is over, express your appreciation. Say, “I am so happy we got to do this together. It was even better than I imagined.”

4. Make Family Time Happen
Always present electronics, tv, and work are common distractions. Schedule in family time by literally making it a weekly priority. Keeping it consistent will not only help make family memories, but it will also show your family that you too appreciate experiences.

Try This –> Pick a day of the week to have one to two hours of guaranteed family time. For example, Friday movie nights, board games on Thursdays, or Sunday mornings of PJs and pancakes. This may be just what your family needs. You and your kids will end up looking forward to the activity you choose together and the start of a new tradition.

5. Pay It Forward
Giving your time is one of the hardest things. So often as adults time is the one thing we want more of each day. So, setting aside time to help out in the community, showing your family how much you appreciate time together, and planning ahead can help your kids see that you value time.

Try This –> Sign up to ring the bells for the Salvation Army. It gets the whole family involved. Or check out volunteer options in the Green Bay Area through the Volunteer Center Website.  

Whether you try them all or just one, may your family feel blessed, joy, and togetherness as you end one calendar year (and decade) and start a new one.