Thankfulness is a concept I truly believe needs to be ingrained in daily life. In a day and age where it feels like everyone is materialistic, being thankful is an important thing to instill into ourselves and our children. I like to give thankfulness extra special attention during the month of November. As an adult I understand the concept of thankfulness. But explaining it to a toddler or young child can be pretty difficult. I know that I did struggle with it for my oldest and it is still a work in progress for sure.
Here are 10 ways that I teach my kids to be thankful. They are pretty simple, but that is why I believe they work.
What ways do you help your children show and be thankful?
10 Ways to Be Thankful
Create a thankfulness jar:
This can be as simple as a box that the kids decorate and everyone writes down things they are thankful for (or you do for your young ones). Then pick a time to read them to the entire family. We like to do this after Sunday dinner. You can also do it on Thanksgiving! I use this one for more than one item at a time.
If you would rather not make a jar, this is a simple and easy tool. Every night go around the table and say one thing you are thankful for. This gets kids in the habit of identifying what they are thankful for each day. It makes it more ingrained and it only takes a few moments out of every day.
Make it a Part of How you Talk:
By this I mean tell them what you are thankful for! For example, if something good happens, reinforce it. Let them know how thankful you are and how happy it makes you when you listen, or put your toys away without being asked. You get the picture. You should share with them that you are thankful for the small things. Your children will follow your lead!
I am firm believer that children need chores. It teaches them the value in all the effort you put in to running the house, shows them that things do not just come easy, they need to work for it and of course I believe (hope) it instills thankfulness for all that you do for them!
Say No / Cut out “Stuff”:
This is a big one. It can be really hard to make this happen with the Holidays coming up. But hear me out, If you are giving your child whatever they want (not need!!) then how will they ever learn to be thankful for what they have? They are always getting what they want and they will believe that is how the world works. Saying no to requests for toys or other wanted items allows your child to come to terms (hopefully without tons of tantrums on the floor at Target) that they will not always get what they want. That way when they do get what they want, it will teach them to be happy / grateful / thankful for it!
Get your kids in the habit of writing thank you cards. Or making thank you pictures if they are younger. It is part of having manners as well as being grateful / thankful for the gift we have received.
Having manners is important part of respect and helps kids to appreciate things done for them. This includes: Please, Thank You, Your Welcome. Make sure you are demonstrating the same behavior in every situation possible. It will rub off on them! If you sincerely say please and thank you to people who help you and ask your kids to do the same, it can help to instill the idea of thankfulness / gratefulness for the small things in our lives.
This one can be hard, especially for smaller children. But, donating toys and clothing to those in need is a great way to show thankfulness for what we have. Start with your own closet and see if the kids will help too! There are other ways to be generous, with time for example, helping a neighbor out with a simple task is a great way for kids to feel good about contributing.
This is a great tool for both teaching finance skills, saving, and gratitude. Having to save up for something the child wants teaches them the value of the item as well as restraint because you are not buying it for them. It will make them feel more grateful for the item once it is purchased since they had to save for it. While I do not tie normal chores to allowance. I don’t get paid to work at home. I do give extra funds for above normal tasks completed.
Teach through Reading:
A great way to bring this topic to children is through stories that they hear over and over. Once I finish reading the book I like to talk about the topic with my child. It makes it an easier starting point if you are having difficulty starting the conversation on the topic. Here are some great choices:
- I’m Thankful (by Terri-Sue Hill)
- Llama Llama Gives Thanks (by Anna Dewdney)
- Being Thankful (by Mercer Mayer)
- Thanksgiving is for Giving Thanks (by Margaret Sutherland)
- The Bernstain bears Give Thanks (by Stan and Jan Berenstain)
- I am Thankful (by Suzy Capozzi)
- Biscuit is Thankful (by Alyssa Satin Capucilli)
- The Giving Tree (by Shel Silverstein)
- The Thankful Book (by Todd Parr)
With these awesome ideas your family will be on their way to being thankful, not only at Thanksgiving, but year round.
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