Raising Thankful Children

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Children need to learn how to give and receive, and this learning begins in infancy. A child gives a smile and receives an endearing flow of loving responses. Early on, children begin to understand the reciprocity of relationships. These relationships become embedded in the spirit of the child, and manifest themselves in their developing values and character. Raising thankful children does not begin with an activity of "doing" or gift giving; it is rooted in the empathetic relationships developed during infancy, which are carried on throughout life.

As children grow and develop, the ability to be thankful is reinforced by the little things that we as parents, teachers, and supportive adults model. How do WE model thankfulness, gratitude, and empathy towards others? How do we help our children see the gifts of life in our everyday living? 

Most of us have experienced a moment with our own children when, amidst a field of expensive toys, the child prefers a cardboard box. The simplest gifts are the best.  A famous early childhood educator named Dr. Alice Sterling Honig said, "Children need to lean!" They need to lean on the adults in their lives physically and emotionally. The adults in their lives are the most important "objects" in the world for our children. They need the gift of your shoulder, lap, or a gentle hand. Children need you 100% and they are thankful for that!

Simple things to do that facilitate thankfulness:

  1. Model gratitude and thankfulness from the heart
  2. Find a balance between giving and overindulging children
  3. Families can get involved in the community with children
  4. Show your thankfulness
  5. Write thank you notes and have children draw thank you pictures
  6. Help children develop a vocabulary of thankful words
  7. Read books that represent thankfulness
  8. Develop a family culture of thankfulness and gratitude

Post by Stephen Zwolak