Teaching Kids to Give Thanks

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Teaching kids how to give thanks and show gratitude is one of the biggest and best life lessons we can teach. And, the holiday season serves as the perfect backdrop for teaching and learning these big lessons!  Here are some of our favorite ways to teach kids about giving thanks during the holiday season.

Model the behaviors you wish to see. Use words such as “please” and “thank you” from the very beginning. When children begin to develop their language skills, be sure to continue to highlight the importance of these words, “up please” vs. “up” and “more please” vs. “more” for example.  As children grow older continue to reinforce gratitude on a daily basis by acknowledging and thanking them for behaviors that you appreciate. “Thank you for picking up your blocks, that really helps me out.” And “Thank you for the good night kiss, that makes me feel very happy and loved.”

Helping out with a charity? Include the kids! If your kids are old enough, have them tag along for a store run. Tell them that their family will be donating food to other families that do not have as much to eat. Ask them what food items they think those other children would like to eat. Have your kids come with while you drop off the food items at the food bank and explain to them why helping is so important.

If you donate old clothes or toys, have the kids help you sort out old items and put them into cloth bags. Explain to them where the items are going and why it is important. It may be difficult for the kids to give up an item at first so be sure to start with your own items and them ask them if there is something special they too would like to give to another family or child in need. If they are not ready, not too worry! Giving is something to do with joy! Perhaps they will be ready next time.

When the kids grow older, have them help out at a soup kitchen or local charity that your family supports. Make it a family activity!

Teach your kids how to write thank you cards. If they are younger, have them draw on a piece of paper and write “thank you” on the other side. As they grow older their pictures will slowly transform into letters and eventually personalized hand written notes. Some families set a house rule that gifts cannot be used until all thank you cards a written!

Ask everyone to pitch in. If you are hosting a holiday party or event at the home, have the little ones help out by setting the table, hanging up some of their favorite artwork from school or assisting with baking. By pitching in, children get a sense of work, effort, and what it feel like to contribute to something outside of themselves from a young age.

What are some creative ways you help to teach the little ones to give thanks? We would love to hear from you, post your gratitude craft ideas or photos to our Facebook page #GivingThanks !

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