In this Thanksgiving season, gratitude takes many forms. For children, lessons in true thankfulness build empathy for others and other life skills, and set the stage for long-term happiness and optimism.
So how do we teach thankfulness?
Here are five ways to help your children grow past the “please” and “thank you” of basic manners, to genuine gratitude.
- Keep gifts reasonable. It’s hard to teach gratitude when your child receives everything she asks for. Also, too many gifts can be overwhelming for young children, making it difficult for them to appreciate any one item.
- Look for opportunities to participate in community giving with your child. For example, collect jackets for a local children's program, and explain how they will help children just like him to stay warm during the winter.
- Show thankfulness to your child. Say things like, “Thank you for helping your brother pick up the toys in the playroom,” or “Thank you for that hug; it made me feel better.”
- Start family traditions for showing thanks. For example, begin dinner time once a week with each family member naming something she is thankful for, or have children draw a thank-you picture for gifts they receive from friends and family.
- Finally, be patient! An attitude of gratitude will not develop overnight; it takes years of work and consistent reinforcement. Remember to celebrate the little victories along the way as your child develops.
Information courtesy of Wake County SmartStart, wakesmartstart.org