With Thanksgiving and Christmas just around the corner, it is the time of year where we hear a lot about gratitude and thankfulness. While I don’t think these are things that we should just hear about a few months out of the year, it is the perfect time to introduce or reiterate what it means to be thankful and come up with ways to teach children gratitude, even at a young age.
Toddlers and early childhood years are when many children realize that they get things pretty easily when it comes to their grandparents, or they receive gifts on special occasions for doing absolutely nothing. It seems like they quickly lose sight of the fact that they need to be appreciative and thankful of those special gifts or little acts of kindness that are shown to them.
It is our job as parents to show and teach them how to appropriately show appreciation and the importance of having a grateful heart and attitude. This article from Parents.com shows even more ways to teach children gratitude.
Ways to Teach Children Gratitude
1. Have them make something for the person they are trying to show appreciation for
Things like baking a treat or coloring a picture are so much fun for kids, but they are also things that family members especially love to receive. My husbands parents moved to Arizona a few years ago, and they are extremely involved in our children’s lives. They are phenomenal grandparents and do tend to spoil our kids. What are grandparents for if not to spoil? That’s what I hear at least. 😉
I am a big advocate for really being mindful of how much our children are spoiled, because I refuse to raise my children to feel entitled or like they should just be given everything and anything. Personal opinion, but I think this is the root of much larger issues.
We have noticed that our oldest was getting into the habit of just expecting things versus saying “thank you” and appreciating them on special occasions. Something that I had her do when she was younger was bake them a cake and decorate it after they got home from a trip. I explained to her that we were doing it because they do so much for us and we are so thankful for them.
2. Show them how thankful you are as a parent when they do something for you
Giving them the appreciation that you are trying to instill in them is one of the greatest things we can do as parents. I don’t really like the saying, “Do as I say, and not as I do”, although it is necessary sometimes… But, parents should do everything that they can to be role models for their children and we should want them to do as we do.
Showing them how thankful we are for the little things they do will hopefully help them show the same to others. I also try as often as I can to say “thank-you” to others around me that help me with something, so that my girls can see that everyone needs to be thankful, adults included.
3. Find little things that they can be thankful about
Reminding them how wonderful it is that they have certain things or being thankful for family and friends will help to show them the true definition of what it means to be thankful. For our family, this involves making sure that we pray together as a family, often, especially before meal time and before bed. We thank God for our family, the food, and for giving us the day that we spent together.
Whatever things you do as a family to show appreciate and gratitude are the things that your children see and the examples that they follow. A child being thankful and showing appreciation is one of the most precious sights to see. It’s in those moments that I feel like my work as a parent is actually doing something, even in a small way.
What are some other ways to teach children gratitude that you can think of?