I would love to raise grateful children and I’m trying everyday to do so. Sometimes this can be a tricky thing because toddlers think the world revolves around them. I found a pretty good article on ways to teach your child gratitude. Here is part of it. I fall short on many of these, but I thought these were all great ideas that anyone could easily start doing today. For the full article go here: https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/teaching-children-to-be-grateful/?page=2
How to Teach Gratitude
Children model their parents in every way, so make sure you use “please” and “thank you” when you talk to them. (“Thanks for that hug — it made me feel great!”) Insist on their using the words, too. After all, “good manners and gratitude overlap,” says New York City etiquette consultant Melissa Leonard, a mother of two young daughters.
- Work gratitude into your daily conversation. Lately, we’ve been trying to weave appreciation for mundane things into our everyday talk — with A.J., his big sister, Mathilda, 10, and especially with our 2-year-old, Mary Elena. (“We’re so lucky to have a good cat like Sam!” “Aren’t the colors in the sunset amazing?” “I’m so happy when you listen!”) When you reinforce an idea frequently, it’s more likely to stick. One way to turn up the gratitude in your house is to pick a “thanking” part of the day. Two old-fashioned, tried-and-true ideas: Make saying what good things happened today part of the dinnertime conversation or make bedtime prayers part of your nightly routine.
- Have kids help. It happens to all of us: You give your child a chore, but it’s too agonizing watching him a) take forever to clear the table or b) make a huge mess mixing the pancake batter. The temptation is always to step in and do it yourself. But the more you do for them, the less they appreciate your efforts. (Don’t you feel more empathy for people who work outside on cold days when you’ve just been out shoveling snow yourself?) By participating in simple household chores like feeding the dog or stacking dirty dishes on the counter, kids realize that all these things take effort.
- Find a goodwill project. That doesn’t mean you need to drag your toddler off to a soup kitchen every week, says Lewis. Instead, figure out some way he can actively participate in helping someone else, even if it’s as simple as making cupcakes for a sick neighbor. “As you’re stirring the batter or adding sprinkles,” she says, “talk about how you’re making them for a special person, and how happy the recipient will be.”
- Encourage generosity. “We frequently donate toys and clothes to less fortunate kids,” says Hulya Migliorino, of Bloomingdale, New Jersey. “When my daughters see me giving to others, it inspires them to go through their own closets and give something special to those in need, as well.”
- Insist on thank-you notes. Paula Goodnight, of Maineville, Ohio, always makes her girls (Rachel, 10, Amelia, 6, and Isabella, 3) write thank-yous for gifts. “When they were toddlers, the cards were just scribbles with my own thank-you attached,” she says. “As they grew, they became drawings, then longer letters.” Younger children can even dictate the letter while you write, says Lewis. “Just the act of saying out loud why he loved the gift will make him feel more grateful,” she says.
- Practice saying no. Of course kids ask for toys, video games, and candy — sometimes on an hourly basis. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to feel grateful when your every whim is granted. Saying no a lot makes saying yes that much sweeter.
- Be patient. You can’t expect gratitude to develop overnight — it requires weeks, months, even years of reinforcement. But trust me, you will be rewarded. Four years after the robotic dog fiasco, I can now report that A.J. is a grateful, cheerful boy who delights in making other people happy. Sure, he asked for lots of gifts this Christmas, but he was just as excited about requesting gifts for his sisters. “They’ve both been good girls and deserve something special,” he wrote in his letter to Santa. Now I’m the one feeling grateful.
I always have my children write thank you cards after their birthday, Christmas, or anytime somebody does something nice for them. During Christmas my kids receive so many toys from Santa, grandparents, cousins, and friends that I think they soon forget who gave them what. I like to sit down with my kids and write a list of who gave them a gift and what it was. As we talk about it they will remember opening it and remember the giver. I have found that if they remember the giver they are more grateful for not just the toy, but the nice thing the giver did for them. After writing the list of toys they receive we write the thank you cards. My kids are too young to write their own, but I will usually have them draw a picture, or color something and then I will write down the thank you part for them.
After Christmas this year I made a word document, typed the words, “thank you” with the boldest font I could find and then chose the option of doing an outline of the letters. We ended up with this:
It was the perfect card for my boys to color. I set them down with their crayons and they started coloring.
My three year old drew a picture of the toy he was saying thank you for in the corner of each card. You can barely see it in this one, but in bottom left corner he drew an ogre.
My 3 and 5 year old boys would tell me what they wanted to say in each card and I would write it down. That was an easier thing for my 5 year old and he had no problem telling me what to say. My 3 year old needed more prompting, so if you’re having trouble having your child tell you what to write, ask them a few questions. Ask what they like about the toy, what do they do when they play with their toy, what is their favorite thing about it, etc.
Remember that thank you cards don’t have to be sent just for gifts. Have your child write a thank you card for a fun play date, sleepover, or something thoughtful that somebody did for them.
I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and are enjoying the New Year.
Hello! I am Camille, a wife, mother of four, Disney obsessed, certified teacher, and reality optimist. Motherhood comes with its ups and downs, and I hope while you’re here you’ll find something that makes your #momlife easier!