Fall is the time when we really begin thinking about Thanksgiving and the holiday season. But, as any Hallmark movie will tell you, it’s important to focus on what this season is all about. If you have little ones, teaching gratitude and thankfulness are important lessons that should be instilled from the very beginning. Here are a few of our favorite tips to teach gratitude and thankfulness to young children.
Making hand-shaped turkeys is a common craft. But instead of just outlining your child’s hand, ask them to name something they are thankful for to write on each finger.
Another crafty option is to have your kids decorate a thankfulness jar. They can use stickers, paint, or glitter to make it special to them. Once the jar is complete, have the entire family write down what they are thankful for over the next few days. Once the jar is all filled up, have the fids read the papers at dinner.
Writing and journaling is a great practice to instill in young ones early on. Being able to write out your feelings and communicate through the written word is a skill that will last a lifetime. Encourage your kids to journal about things they are grateful for and why. This will encourage them to sit down and really think about the things that are special in their lives.
Another option is to have your kids write thank-you notes to the people they love. It doesn’t have to be for a specific gift or event. Instead, they can write about qualities they love. For example, having an aunt who is always there for them or a grandma who helps with homework.
Ad they say, out of sight, out of mind. Make it a point to share with your kids just how much work went into the things they see and do on a daily basis. Things like picking up dinner, getting gas, or going to the store can easily be taken for granted. When you have dinner at a restaurant, talk about the farmer, trucker, cook, server, and all of the hard work that went into preparing their dinner. Do the same thing at the store, at school, and when they receive something new.
When kids are a part of things, they are more likely to show appreciation. Helping with dinner, cleaning, and other household chores should be out of the ordinary, but rather part of the routine. Making them a part of the daily workings of your household will help your children better understand the value of hard work at a young age, thus they will be more appreciative when others do things for them.
Don’t just wait until Thanksgiving to show your gratitude. Thankfulness is something that should be practiced all year long. Point out things you love about family members and friends and have them do the same. Or play the “high low” game at dinner to get better insight into your children’s priorities and concerns.
It is never too early to begin teaching and modeling thankfulness and gratitude to the young people in your life. These behaviors will help to create compassionate, caring, and empathetic adults, who will lead the way for the next generation.
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