4 Ways to Raise a Thankful Child
Raising a thankful child is an essential lifelong process that can begin as young as 18 months old. According to Sanford Health, “By age two, your child will begin saying “thank you” to others. Your child will not be able to express appreciation but is aware adults will do things to make him or her happy.” Other milestones of gratitude happen between the ages of 3-5 and again from 6-8 years old.
Those between the ages 3-5 years old are able to comprehend when and how to say “thank you” and will be able to name and identify things that make them feel grateful such as their favorite toy. Older children between the ages of 6-8 can recognize how to help others and how to express gratitude without the guidance of an adult.
Children learn how to be thankful first in their homes with their parents and caregivers guiding the gratitude process. Here are some ideas you can use to raise a thankful child all year long.
1. Model Thankfulness
Our children watch us carefully and soak up everything we do like a sponge. If we model gratitude and appreciation on a regular basis, it will only make this learning process seem much more natural. Make sure you are saying thank you to your family, friends, and people you encounter running around town so you child learns that when someone helps you the response should be one of thanks.
2. Volunteer and Help Others
Helping others and volunteering teaches our children to think outside themselves and their needs. It allows them to see how rich their lives, how to be thankful and appreciate what they have, as well as to have compassion. If you’re looking for ways to volunteer and help, click here for some great ideas for young children.
3. Talk About Your Highs and Lows
At the end of the day have the family share their highs and lows from the day with each other. The highs are the parts of their day to be thankful for that day and the lows are the not-so-great parts of their day that we can have compassion for. This helps you and/or your older children model being thankful for your younger children and it helps you check-in with each other and what’s going on.
4. Read Books
Books are always a fun way to learn! Fun and colorful stories become a great tool to help your child learn and understand being thankful. Grab a few of our favorites from the library and have a reading session all about thankfulness. A few suggestions are Thankful by Eileen Spinelli, I Am Thankful: A Thanksgiving Book for Kids by Sheri Wall, or A Little Thankful SPOT by Diane Alber.
Gratitude doesn’t develop overnight, but with a little bit of nurturing and practice, being thankful can become a part of everyday life. Studies have even shown that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness, and who doesn’t want their child to be happy? Our online preschool classes are a great way for your child to develop their knowledge, motor skills, and social and emotional health. Try a free class today!