Teaching Children to be Thankful

Every parent’s goal is to raise their kids to grow up as respectful and successful adults. Teaching kids about gratitude can help build positive habits, actions, and emotions.  What better time to start teaching children to be thankful than during Thanksgiving?

How Can Gratitude Benefit Kids?

Cultivating gratitude in kids encourages positive emotions while opening them up to learning and good decision making. While young kids are bound to throw tantrums and misbehave, teaching children to be thankful encourages good manners like  saying “thank you,” sharing, and other positive actions that are important for development as they get older.  Kids who are around people who express appreciation or express these emotions themselves see benefits in forming relationships. Kids can feel more loved and even build more trust between family members or friends. Here are some tips to start teaching kids about gratitude and fostering healthy habits this fall.     

1. Teach kids where things come from

We all know children can ask a lot of questions at a young age. Take advantage of this curiosity spark and explain where things come from. When appropriate opportunities come up, explain where things like their favorite fruits or vegetables come from, that you have wash, cut, and prepare it before eating. These moments make great learning opportunities and will start generating simple understanding of concepts like hard work or time.  

2. Model by being in the moment

Kids absorb what is in their environment. Make a point to model gratitude and appreciation for your kids to see. Using manners like “please” and “thank you” is a great place to start but you can also take it further with everyday tasks around the house. For example, if you ask your kids to clean up their toys, don’t stop at “thank you.” Explain you are grateful they helped clean up their toys today and that they did a great job.

3. Start your own family tradition or practice

Some may think having a tradition or gratitude practice is something that is limited to those who are religious. However, showing appreciation is a simple exercise that anyone can work toward.  Try having everyone go around the table and say one thing they are thankful for. This tradition could only be for the holiday season or maybe you’ll want to keep it up throughout the year. This can be a great way to get kids engaged and have them thinking about what they are grateful for.  If the dinner table is not the best time, try incorporating this time of reflection during other moments of the day such as before bed.    

4. Work on waiting

In our world of technology, instant gratification, and busy lifestyles, it's easy to take things for granted. When children want something, they want it right away. Not giving in to their non-urgent needs right away will help open them up to the idea of waiting and being patient. Doing this little by little will help start learning these skills for when they get older.