Teaching Kids to Be Thankful
With the month of November comes Thanksgiving, which reminds
us all to be thankful for the wonderful things each of us has. Throughout my 26
years of being a dad I’ve learned to express thanks and gratitude for something
everyday, whether big or small. And I’ve tried hard to instill that same sense
of thanks in each of my six children. Teaching kids to be thankful is not
always the easiest task, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but if you follow my
tips you’re sure to be headed in the right direction.
Lead By Example: First
things first, it’s extremely important to lead by example. Allow your children
to watch you express gratitude to a friend or a neighbor for their kind acts of
generosity. It’s also important to thank your child when they act in a positive
way or do something special for you. Your acknowledgement will make them want
to do more good things to receive those special thanks.
What Are You Thankful
For: Traditionally families discuss things they’re thankful for around the
dinner table on Thanksgiving; however, I would encourage each of you to expand
this tradition outside of November. If it works for you to mention one thing
you’re thankful for everyday – that’s great. If not, make sure you make a
special time for each family member to share what they’re thankful for once a
week or once a month. Turning this Thanksgiving tradition into a routine will
encourage your child to reflect more often upon what they’re truly thankful
Do Nice Things for
Others: Doing nice things for other people is one of the greatest things we
can do, as parents, to instill gratitude and thanks in our children. It’s the
simple acts of kindness that allow us to experience thanks and gratitude from
others. Bake a loaf of bread for your nanny along with a special card your
child can help decorate, let your child give the UPS man a bag of homemade
cookies along with a “thanks for delivering our packages,” etc. Brainstorm,
with your child ways in which they can do nice things for others and then work
through that list together.
Encourage Helping: Having
your child help around the house will ensure they don’t take you or mom for
granted. If you always clear the table or sort the laundry or pick up your
child’s toys then they won’t know what effort each activity takes. Encourage
them to help you with chores or give them a couple of their own chores – that
way you can give thanks and appreciation for their help, and they will give you
thanks and appreciation for all that you do to keep the house running smoothly.
Remember teaching children to be thankful doesn’t happen
overnight; it’s a process. Be patient and take it one day at a time trying to
express gratitude at every opportunity you receive.