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Developing Thankfulness and Gratitude

In the month of November conversations about gratitude, giving back and appreciation take center stage as parents help their children develop an attitude of gratitude.

Encourage your child to develop a grateful heart that tells others what they are thankful for from their own perspective. Children that give details of what they are thankful for and why begin to understand the concepts of gratitude and being thankful for people, circumstances and things in their lives.

The following ideas are intentional ways to help children of all ages grow in the area of gratitude:

Signs of Thankfulness

When children are around 6 to 9 months old, start teaching them signs for common words like “milk,” “food,” “more” and “all done.” Don’t forget to teach “please” and “thank you” to establish good manners before they start talking and develop gratitude.

Heart of Gratitude

Young children can express gratitude in your home before they are old enough to write. Decorate a hanging wooden heart with the words “thank you” in the middle. Explain that the heart would hang on the bedroom door of anyone caught doing good, as a reminder of thankfulness for their act of kindness. You will be amazed how quickly children grasp the concept. They will be thanking you and their siblings for all sorts of acts of kindness. “Thank you, Sophia, for playing blocks with me”. Or “Thank you, Alexa, for helping me pour milk on my cereal.”

Reminders of Thanks

When children are very young, it’s easy to remind them to say, “Thank you.” Older children may also need verbal reminders to say, “Thank you.” But, as kids grow, the expectation from others and their growing understanding of being thankful changes and matures. A verbal “thank you” may need to be followed up with a written thank you note.

A Lesson in Gratitude

At the beginning of the school year, when you are shopping for school supplies, buy an extra backpack and fill it with supplies for a child in need. Put in a special note and then drop it off at a local charity that is collecting back-to-school donations.

Whiteboard Thanks

Mount a whiteboard on the refrigerator or any convenient location around your home. This can be used as a communication board between the family members to remind each other to have a good day or to help kids show more appreciation for things that are often taken for granted. Anyone in the family can write or draw on the board and show gratitude or appreciation and encourage each other.

Read books with the message of gratitude

Many children's books have the theme of gratitude or thankfulness. Look for books that match your family values.

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