The hustle and bustle of everyday life can easily steal our grateful mindsets, making us forget just how lucky we really are – however, it's never too late to mark a time in your life where you can count your blessings. Thanksgiving is a time to make an opportunity to teach these kinds of lessons to my daughter. I believe that we need to see more kindness and gratitude in the world, am I right?
Teaching toddlers thankfulness is actually quite simple – it's all about having meaningful conversations, along with modeling those very same behaviors you're teaching. Here are some ways that I teach my daughter to be thankful.
Planting seeds of courtesy: Modeling positive behaviors can be one of the easiest ways to teach your child good manners. Try to remember to say "please" and "thank you" when asking them to do something. If there are chances to help somebody else out, whether it's holding the door open for them, helping an elderly woman carry bags to her car, or even participating in a “Buy Nothing” program in your town, where you give away items within your own home you no longer use to help someone out, then take advantage of these opportunities. Instilling courtesy in your child now will go a long way in teaching them to be respectful as they grow.
Share your appreciation out loud: Talk openly with your child about the things in life you're thankful for, and then ask them to name a few they are thankful for as well. I realize that younger children may not completely grasp what that term means just yet, so you could change the wording and ask them about their favorite things in life instead. Extend the discussion and remind them that maybe someone special had gotten that favorite toy for them and point out that you are both thankful for that person.
Appreciation through actions: Go out shopping with your child and pick out a thoughtful item together for a friend or family member as a token of appreciation. You can even ask your child to draw a picture to go along with the gift. This simple act shows your child how to appreciate, and be thankful for the people in their lives
Give back to the needy: Donate canned goods to your local food pantry. This is easy to get your child involved in, as you can allow them to choose the food they'd like to donate. Explain that you are thankful to have good food to eat and you want to make sure that others have the same.
It is never too early to teach your child(ren) to be thankful for what they have. Practicing these basic principles have gone a long way in helping me teach my daughter what gratitude means. I hope you and your family have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, full of good food, family, and love!
Photo credits: Heather Nicholson