I remember looking down at my newborn baby thinking he can do no wrong…then he turned three. If you ever want to see purely selfish behavior hang out with toddlers. These little humans are born wanting their way and as parents it’s our job to teach and train them in an attitude of gratitude. Believe me it doesn’t come naturally.
This holiday season I wanted to be more intentional about demonstrating and creating opportunities to show thankfulness to Little Man everyday. It felt like a daunting task at first…EVERYDAY? Who was I kidding? I can barely remember to brush my teeth everyday (don’t judge!). Thankfully (see I’m being thankful already) I was given some cardstock with leaves outlined on them which gave me an idea. At dinnertime we could write down one thing we were thankful for that day. Not revolutionary I know but simple is best with little ones. Little Man loved to cut with his new scissors so I let him help me cut out the leaves and explained what we would be doing with them every night.
The first night we went around the dinner table saying what we were thankful for and all Little Man could come up with was “Leaves”. The next night we ordered pizza so he was thankful for “pizza and plates”. Many more nights followed and the answers included bread, planes, toys, pasta, Dada, Momma, and his little brother Punkin. Nothing earth shattering but then again what did I expect from a three year old? The good news is that my fear of forgetting to show thankfulness every night through these leaves was quickly dispelled. Once it became a routine Little Man starting reminding me!
I was given another opportunity to show gratitude last week. Our MOPS group was compiling shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. I normally would have compiled the items myself but with this new focus I decided to see if I could get Little Man’s interest piqued. I announced we were going to the store to buy presents for a little boy who didn’t have any toys. The look on his face was priceless. “NO TOYS?” I had finally hit him where his heart was. He couldn’t imagine not having any toys and he had no problem picking out items for the shoebox. He even told Dada that night at dinner how he had bought presents for a little boy who didn’t have any toys (said with a look of unbelief). It was such fun to see him get excited about putting the box together. He wanted to know about this boy that would get our box. Where does he live? What’s his name? Granted, I couldn’t answer them but OCC allows me to track the box. Upon delivery I will receive an email letting me know what country my box ended up in. We even put a photo of our family, our address and a note inside for this boy.
So it turns out I just had to find the area that hit home for Little Man, and that home included toys.
How do you teach your kids about thankfulness?