As we give thanks this Thanksgiving, and prepare for a happy holiday season, parents have an amazing opportunity to teach their children to be courteous and thankful. Here are a handful of tips on helping your little ones understand thankfulness.
Encourage “Please” and “Thank You” Early
The words might just be a learned habit for very young kids, but later on your child will have an easier time associating them with gratitude and politeness. You can also encourage non-verbal gestures of gratitude, like hugs. Have your child rehearse how to receive presents politely early in the holiday season.
Set an Example
When spending time with your child, make sure you give thanks for little things. Make a point to thank your servers and store clerks, and specifically explain why that person’s act should be appreciated. In turn, thank your child for performing tasks like picking up their toys or sharing with their siblings.
Ask your child, or even your whole family, to write down a few things they’re most thankful for. You can take turns reading them before sharing Thanksgiving dinner. Also, when you sit down for your meal, call attention to the hard work and effort that individual family members put into creating it.
Your child’s holiday wish list might be a few pages long (and there’s nothing wrong with that), but ask them which items they want the most, and let them know their entire list will not be fulfilled. Setting limitations early on will help with longterm expectations.
Instill a Giving Spirit
Make the point early and often that the holidays are not just about “getting stuff.” Participate in acts of generosity with your child leading up to Christmas. Let them assist you with making or delivering baked goods for others. Allow them to pick out toys to donate to toy drives or adopt-a-family programs.