Today on Thanksgiving, but really every day, it is important to think about raising children who are thankful and appreciative. How can a parent or teacher instill these traits in children?
When children are about 18 months old, they can repeat the phrase “thank you.” While they will not truly understand what it means until they are about 3, and will probably need prompting to use the phrase for quite some time after that, it is essential to make the words and the sentiment part of their environment from infancy. Do you say thank you to the mailman? The doorman? The bank teller? Involve your children when you help others. Thank them when they have been cooperative. Ask your young child to help draw pictures for a thank you card and write down the words they would like to say.
Many families have a tradition of asking each member what they are thankful for. Young children sometimes have difficulty answering the question. Try reframing it as “Who do you say thank you to?” or “What do you say thank you for?”
Be sure to model gratitude and empathy.
When children live it, they learn it!