We all work hard to teach our kids to say please and thank you. It starts from a very early age. Even toddlers are expected to say those magic words. While I absolutely agree with teaching our young children to use these words, I also think it is equally important to teach our children gratitude from the get-go, too. Thanksgiving and the holiday season are a great time to get started. A simple way to teach your children about gratitude is to bring gratitude into your activities.
1. Model gratitude for your children. Share what you are thankful for. Give thanks to them, give thanks for them. Be openly grateful for non-material things like a Saturday morning spent playing together or an unexpected break in the clouds to go out and enjoy the sun. Modeling thankfulness for them through our own actions is probably the most important way to teach children about gratitude.
2. Read about thankfulness. Children’s books are always a great way to introduce concepts to children. Books such as The Thankful Book by Todd Parr or I‘m Thankful Each Day! by P.K. Hallinan are colorful and fun examples of gratitude.
3. Make it a conversation. Each night at the dinner table make gratitude a part of the conversation. Ask your children what they are thankful for. Very young toddlers may not fully understnad the concept, but they will mimic what older siblings and parents do, which is a great first step. Chances are, these gratitude-filled conversations will one day be something you and your children look back on and feel grateful for.
5. Gift giving. Sometimes understanding something fully comes from seeing things from both sides. Gift giving can convey the feelings of love and compassion that proceed feelings of gratitude. And often times, giving a gift helps you to feel thankful, too.
6. Thank you notes. It’s important for all children to practice showing gratitude. Writing thank you notes help make gratefulness a habit. Even toddlers can help write or make thank you notes.
7. Use a thankful vocabulary in daily life. Please and Thanks are a good start, but adding words like grateful, appreciate and thankful into your daily conversations will not only up your child’s vocabulary but also give them a more rounded out understanding of gratitude.
How do you make learning about or practicing gratitude a part of your child’s day?