Raising a Grateful Child
With Thanksgiving around the corner, it’s the perfect time to share some thoughts on how to nurture a spirit of kindness and thankfulness within your child. Is there any better sound than a child saying please and thank-you? We think not.
- Show them how it’s done. Always set an example for your children by using those magic words and by extending gratitude when they complete a task or follow your lead. Please and thank you are part of the language development and should be included early and often in conversation. But it’s not just words; kind actions should be carried out and acknowledged. Mentor kindness. Speak respectfully to your partner, your coworkers, the person at the drive-thru window, your child’s teachers or your next-door neighbor. Showing consistent appreciation is instilling the very best behavior in your children.
- Point out kindness. When you spend time with your kids, be sure to draw attention to acts of kindness and proper manners in real life and in real-time. Did a grandparent buy them ice cream? Mention to them, “Wasn’t it nice of grandma to buy you a treat?” Is there someone holding the door as you pass through it? Be sure to thank them in front of your kids and to say, “That was so helpful of them to help us with the door.” It’s great for children to see kindness in action.
- Talk about it. Thank your child for their efforts and accomplishments, then ask them how they felt when you said those magic words. Include the topic of if they have ever felt bad about not hearing, “please or thank you.” Open a dialogue about empathy and then watch them go out of their way to be kind to others. This is not a bad time to have a “Golden Rule” conversation, “Do for others as you would have done to you.”
- Get creative about how to express thanks. Some children might experience some social anxiety about saying please and thank-you. Make saying thank-you fun! Have your child write a thank you, drawing a thank-you, create a fun little craft as a thank-you gift. Have your child take a smiling selfie or record a cure video message to be sent by cell phone.
- Make a gratitude list. Ask your children who they feel are helpful to them and who they should be thankful for. The list could include other family members, pets, friends, teachers, coaches, community helpers and other people who contribute to the quality of their lives. Once you have the list made, post it to remind them of who they should be thanking when the opportunity presents itself.