Teaching Children Thankfulness

There are so many great ways to teach children thankfulness.

  • Say “Thank you” as often as you can – Model manners.  If you expect them to say “please” and “thank you” often, you’ll need to model it yourself.  It can be helpful to include a bit about why you are saying “thank you.” Meaning say, “Thank you for holding the door,” or “Thank you for speaking nicely to your sister.”
  • Discuss things you appreciate and are thankful for each day – This is more general but it is voicing appreciation.  This may be, “I really enjoy the orange and red leaves in our neighborhood in the fall,” or “I appreciate how much you helped your brother picking up his room this morning.”
  • Encourage children to voice one good thing that happened each day – Maybe at the dinner table or during tuck-in, encourage children to find one good thing that happened each day.  Occasionally, I will throw in a one bad thing or one crazy or surprising thing but most days, it’s good.
  • Plan a weekly thankfulness conversation at dinner – Many of us save this conversation for the Thanksgiving dinner.  The idea is to have this conversation weekly, encourage each person at the table to state one thing they are thankful for.
  • Give opportunity for children to do nice and helpful things for others –  This may be helping a neighbor sweep their sidewalk or sharing a tpoy with a child who is playing alone at the playground.  Discuss with your child after how good it can feel to think of others and how they would be thankful if someone helped them that way.
  • Encourage generosity – Encourage your children to help sort through their clothes and toys to donate.  Talk about how this helps other people who may be in need.  Discuss how you are thankful for the things you have and thankful you are able to share.
  • Write and help them to write Thank You notes – While this may seem a lost art, it is helpful for children to regularly write thank you notes.  For sure, after birthdays and holidays but also other times as it seems to fit.  Maybe they write a thank you note to their teacher at the end of the school year.
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