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Teaching young kids about gratitude

The upcoming holidays are the perfect time to teach young children a very important life lesson about gratitude that will last well past the season.

teaching gratitude to children

Gratitude is a high-level concept that can be tricky for toddlers and preschoolers. They are naturally self-focused in their early ages and stages of development. But as children grow with gratitude, they become more understanding of the needs and feelings of others.

So, how do we teach our children to be grateful? One way is to talk with them about being thankful. Not only for material things, but for acts of kindness from others, too.

Tips for Teaching Gratitude

Here are some tips from First Things First, gathered from child development experts and websites:

  1. Teach them to say thank you to the people who do things for them. That can be their server at a restaurant, a brother or sister who helps them pick up toys, or a friend who gives them a birthday gift.

  2. Tell your kids why you are grateful for them. Be specific in letting your children know they are special and loved. For example: ‘I appreciate the way you help your brother tie his shoes.’

  3. Talk about the things you are grateful for. This can be done in many ways, from a blessing before dinner to keeping a family gratitude journal.

  4. Support a charitable event or organization. Whether you are donating clothes or toys, participating in a food drive, or baking cookies for a new neighbor, talk to children about what those actions mean to those who receive the kindness.

  5. Be consistent. Like all skills, gratitude is not learned in one lesson.

Your child’s first five years are a great opportunity to help them develop the skills they need to be successful later in life. Research shows that thankful people are usually more optimistic. They’re also less depressed and stressed. So, when we teach our children to appreciate what they have, and what others do for them, we are helping them become happier, healthier adults.

More Resources

Sesame Street: Feeling Gratitude – Easy strategies that help children focus on reasons to be grateful can really help them get through challenging times.

ZERO TO THREE: Nurturing Gratitude – Many parents worry about children being ungrateful. Here’s what you can do.

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