The word ‘thankful’ is a big word for pre-schoolers. How do we teach them to say thank you, show thankfulness and mean it? From the time that children learn to speak and we teach them to say thank you, it becomes expected but does saying ‘Thank You’ really mean anything to them?
In order to teach our children to be grateful we have to show it, because like everything else in their world they have to see it to believe it. December is a great time to teach our children gratefulness because it is a season of giving, receiving, sharing and caring. Here are a few simple steps to teach gratitude to our young children:
- Give to others often– Find out who is in need and what they need, involve your children in blessing a family. Make cards and gifts that do not cost any money. Allow your children to give the cards and gifts to the family. Reflect with your children on how it made them feel to give to others and how they thought that family felt to receive those gifts.
- Model gratitude in your everyday life– When you are at the supermarket, a restaurant, or with other family members, let your children hear your say thank you. When the waiter brings you your food, say thank you, when the lady at the counter bags your items, say thank you, when the security man opens the door for you, say thank you. Say it loud and clear. Remember our children are always watching and learning from us. If we have an ungrateful attitude they will pick up on that.
- Teach them how to express their gratitude- we can teach our children to express their gratitude to people around them, either with a thank you note, a thank you card, a birthday present, etc. this gesture from them will make what they did seem like a blessing. Even small toddlers can draw a picture or scribble some lines to show their thanks.
4.Talk about your blessings– Sometimes children forget all that they have to be thankful for. They are born very self centered and we need to teach them to look outside of themselves to see all that they have to be thankful for. This is also an area that you can model for them. You can start by saying prayer of thanks- we thank thee Lord for life, for mummy, for daddy, for food, etc. It may start out generic but as the times goes on it becomes much more specific and thoughtful. You can also have appreciation time- start out with I love you because…. It is a fun way to show why we appreciate each other.
- Honour and love your family– With the present economic situation in the country, coupled with our busy schedules and all of our activities, we forget to stop and honour our family. We need to visit our loved ones, call them, and face-time if possible. Whatever we need to do, we need to teach our children to do the same. Our family is what makes us who we are and we need to remember that and stay in touch, that way we will be thankful for their presence in our lives and show it.
I hope these simple steps to gratitude will help us focus on what is important this season and maybe remember it for years to come. Have a blessed holiday with your families and friends.